The Healing Medicine of Music Festivals
My first medicine
It was a beautiful summer day in Chillicothe, IL – 70s, sunny, blue skies.
I stood in a sea of colorful smiling humans of all ages. I was wearing ripped jean shorts, a grey peace sign tank top, converse sneakers, aviator sunglasses, and a cross body purse that I borrowed from a friend.
I remember being so struck by how everyone else was dressed – Tutus, colorful outfits, tails, fairy wings, etc. I had the ultimate heart eyes. While we all looked different, we had at least one thing in common: A love for music.
Desire for freedom
I couldn’t believe all of these people were dressed so freely.
Deep down something stirred inside me. I wanted to feel free to dress that way too.
I looked down at my clothes and felt insecure. Suddenly these “cute” clothes didn’t feel like they reflected who I was inside. I wondered what I would wear if I weren’t afraid to be completely me…
I looked in awe at the people around me, feeling so many feelings that were all new and yet all familiar. Suddenly this little voice somewhere inside of me said:
“THESE ARE YOUR PEOPLE.
IT IS SAFE TO BE YOU HERE”
I remember tears dripping down my face as I smiled and felt truly happy, connected, and free for the first time since childhood.
I felt the music in every cell of my body, I made eye contact with strangers who smiled, and danced with this big sea of humans that somehow felt like family.
I quickly wiped the tears away, unsure of how to explain my emotions. I didn’t have words yet to process what I was experiencing.
Today, I know it was joy
Lifting the veil
My first festival ever was in 2011. I was 22-years-old, had just graduated college, and went with my then boyfriend.
I will never forget that weekend. It was like my eyes had been closed my entire life and I finally saw the light.
I camped. I took drugs. It poured. I was dirty. And yet, it was one of the most magical weekends of my life.
I even made close friends that I still have in my life today.
For the first time since childhood, I felt like I fit in somewhere. I could be ME.
The Festival Stigma
My festival background is something that I have kept hidden for a lot of years.
My close friends and family all knew this side of me, but it was like a secret that I kept from my corporate coworkers, and public “social media image”.
When it all comes down to it, I didn’t want to be judged or pigeonholed.
Until recently, there has been a pretty big stigma in our country regarding music festivals.
While festivals are dare, I say, “trendy” today, in 2011 when I started going, I found there was still very much a stigma with the general public (dirty hippies doing drugs and seeing music).
While music festivals can absolutely be that, they are so much more.
I didn’t want people in my life to know that I loved this world or that I smoked weed or took psychedelic drugs at festivals. Somehow it seemed more acceptable for 20-somethings to do coke and go to clubs (something I never did).
I was worried about my image.
What if they don’t understand this world?
What if they mis-judge me?
What if they lose respect for me?
All I hear now when I read this is THEM THEM THEM.
I was experiencing anxiety over a desire to be liked and accepted by others.
Really, I was not ready to face my own truth, which was that I felt more comfortable in the festival world, than in mainstream society - A world I spent my entire life unsuccessfully trying to fit into.
I spent a lot of years living two live
J crew, becca
festival going, free spirit, becca
The second version is really who I am inside.
However, I never felt safe enough in corporate to be this version of me, so, I “played the part”.
It wasn’t until I left the corporate world that I was finally able to be festival Becca all the time!
showing up as the real me all the time has
truly been one of the biggest gifts of my life
Festivals and concerts were my medicine of my 20’s. They helped me begin to shed the fake skin I had been wearing all of those years, and uncover the smooth, sparkly Becca that was cooped up underneath the façade.
Fitting in is poison for the soul
When we are so hyper focused on fitting in, we become perfectionists, controlling, and spontaneity is extremely challenging.
I was not born this way (none of us are).
My parents described me as a total free spirit little girl. I had bright sparkly energy. I was creative. My hair was a mane of knots. I was a leader. And I loved talking to people and having fun.
The more I tried to “fit in” in, the less FUN I ended up having, and the less “me” I became.
I had a lot of surface level friends, but deep down I was always lonely.
Growing up and throughout college, I didn’t have any friends I felt comfortable being fully ME around. People who were “weird” enough or shared my interests (music, magic, fairies, dance, nature, spirituality, art, etc.).
The more I was able to be ME and feel SEEN at these festivals, the more I found myself and the more I began to question who was. This was truly the start of my spiritual awakening. I began to ask myself:
Who am I?
Why do I dress the way I do?
Why am I here?
What am I hiding from the world?
It took me a few more years until I was able to really answer these questions, but the seeds were planted.
It took a lot of years for me to come out of my shell, and even in writing this, I am still coming out!
Owning my story, my truth, and who I am is part of living in alignment with myself.
10 things festivals taught me
Not so different from flower children in the 60s.
They taught me how to let loose and get FREE
They connected me to my inner child
They expanded my mind
They woke me up to my own sexuality
They connected me with nature
They reminded me how to be present
They allowed me to feel love for strangers
They taught me how to go with the flow
They provided me with so much fun
They gave me space to question the meaning of life
The Corporate World
Shortly after my first music festival I joined the corporate world where I resided for 7 years.
In the corporate world we are wound so tight.
Most offices require a dress code (for me it was business casual), we need to look “put together”, smell nice, and interact with people we don’t like.
If you’re a woman, most likely you need to wear heels and makeup on occasion (if not every day), and we must speak and behave in a certain way.
Not to mention sexism which is still very much alive.
We are not free.
It took me 7 years to be able to live how I feel at festivals in my everyday life.
It has been a journey, and I am so grateful for this path and for my strength in sharing this story.
Maybe it isn’t festivals and music for you. Maybe it is hiking or dancing or art.
What makes you feel ALIVE?
When do you feel like your inner child?
When do you feel like you are not wearing a mask and you are free to be the full version of YOU?
Maybe you haven’t reached that point yet, and that is OK too!
I’d love to hear your answers to these questions in my Wizebody Tribe (link below), my new closed Facebook community for women.
This is a sacred container for women who are looking for an online home. This is a place we can all feel comfortable sharing our truth, feeling supported, and most importantly – BEING OURSELVES.