From time to time, I come across discussions about what to do with young people when it comes to naturism? How do we keep it from dying with older age groups that seem to be most heavily involved? Is the end of naturism upon us? What to do?
I have no magic answers for these big questions, and I won’t speak on behalf of all young people. I can only say that these discussions prompted me to take some time and reflect on my first year of clothes free life.
I fall on the younger side, female, black, etc. I don’t own a car or a home. I’m still paying off students loans and I work several jobs / gigs. There isn’t a landed physical resort nearby; most are 4-5 hour drives away. In addition to all these technical details is how I am feeling and where I am in my own clothes free journey. To be honest, I’m still not at a point where I feel comfortable going to a social setting or event alone. I share these drops of information not to complain or fuss, but to set context for 3 points that came to mind as I sat reflecting.
The first thing I’d say is that people’s way of sharing has made an impact for me. Phrases like “You should just get over yourself and do this. You should just…” didn’t land for me as it felt like a faceless stranger shaking a finger at me. Who knows what it takes for someone to step into clothes free life? Could be easy for some, could be challenging for others. But what does speak deeply to me is when people say, “What I found in my experience, what worked for me, what I liked/enjoyed, I came across this and wanted to share it with you for consideration…” These kinds of shares are music to my ears, because it’s about the person opening up and talking about their own personal experience, what they have lived. From that kind of share I both interpret recommendation and receive touching inspiration. I also feel a sense of space to consider their shares and then to make my own decisions and step into action; it feels empowering.
Secondly, I found discussion of how to manage the online world and social media very helpful. The way I came across clothes free life was through a random tag on Instagram. Seriously. A lady I had come in contact with via Instagram randomly tagged me to join a naked yoga challenge. One of the co-leaders at that point (@homeclothesfreeyogi) was a person who engages in clothes free life fully, with clothes free yoga as a part of his overall lifestyle. It was through conversation with him that I learned about this whole wonderful thing that is clothes free life. I’ve read some comments stating that people come across naturism / clothes free life by family or hearing about it in person. Indeed, some do. And now, with social media and how it’s doggone everywhere for everything, this is an additional medium through which people (including younger folks) might hear about clothes free life for the first time. So, whenever I’ve talked with people about my struggles, then, with navigating social media to support my clothes free journey, and was met with responses like, “Oh, you can’t rely on social media. The internet isn’t the same. None of this really represents what clothes free life is about. You just have to do it in person,” I didn’t really interpret support. Let me be clear that I wholeheartedly agree with that perspective (see my post about how it felt to finally step out with my mom when she and I went to Hippie Hollow.) In my personal experience, that perspective is right on point, completely accurate.
AND at the same time, what wasn’t helpful for me was when some completely dismissed the online world. The reality is that the internet is here, online stuff is here. There are entire accredited universities that offer degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level online (quality is constantly in discussion and review, as well it should be, but it’s happening). There’s online shopping where I can select a book and get it in 2 days. Or Kindle. I filed my taxes online. LinkedIn is a thing that’s apparently important. And I’ve had some meaningful conversations with people online. It’s just part of life now. So, while I agree that in-person is a completely different experience (and believe me, I much prefer doing stuff in-person, including a degree program, hanging out with people, even buying books because bookstores ROCK), it was more helpful for me when people talked with me about how to manage my presence and navigate discussions and social media rather than totally blowing it off and saying, “Oh you just can’t pay attention to online stuff.” For instance, when I found myself completely overwhelmed by all the random crap I saw online that used “nudism / naturism” for porn, or even when people I followed switched over to heavily sexualized posts, my friend didn’t say to me, “You just need to get over yourself and ignore the online world.” Instead, he said, “maybe consider taking a break for a while.” He talked to me about key things to look for based on my interests and needs as well as various platforms to consider. He offered a lot of suggestions based on his personal experience. He even told me about the steps he took when he needed to take a pause. So, I did just that (see “Time Out” post). I took a break, shifted my presence, and adopted a new approach based on what I needed. So that, for me, was very helpful.
The last thing I’ll share for now from my reflection time is that it’s really up to me to create what I need. I can’t just sit around complaining about the clubs that are far away, the fees, the rules, the population, their websites, or whatever. That doesn’t get anything done. And, I can’t expect other people to create everything for me. If there is something on my heart, I need to get involved and take action. As I mentioned before, I don’t own a car, and the nearest landed places are 4-5 hours out. So, if I had an itch for it, I’d have to save up money, rent a car, get subs at my jobs, and then make an adventure of it. And if that’s what I truly want, it is my responsibility to make it happen. Or create something local. Maybe I need to ask a friend to go with me. Whatever it is, it’s up to me to create my clothes free life. That’s not to say that clubs or organization don’t have anything to consider in terms of outreach, promotion, membership, etc., but my emphasis in this particular piece is on my responsibility to be in action.
For instance, I’ve been dying for a safe social experience. So, guess what I’ve been doing since early this year? Every paycheck, I’ve put aside a little bit of money, which has turned into a nice pot of funds for the clothes free vacation later this month (cha-ching!! & cue victory dance!!!). I was so hungry to go and take part in something awesome. The opportunity arose and I decided to step in and pull my resources together over time to create that possibility. My jobs are set, subs lined up and everything. And I won’t be alone!!!
Another example: these days, I hunger for clothes free time outside. OK, so I don’t have a living situation that allows that. But guess what? I know everyone’s patterns and schedules at the office (that might sound creepy…oh well). So, I decided to create outdoor clothes free moments for myself at the office whenever I can. Maybe it’s 5 minutes, maybe it’s an hour. Maybe, after working another gig, I come back to the office just before sunset, when I know nobody is there, and sit out there and feel my heart rate decrease and my jitters dissipate as the healing breeze washes over and through me. But it is up to me to create that. That’s what I felt comfortable with yesterday, that’s what I longed for, so I took responsibility and created it (thus, all these images). And it was AWESOME.
Again, I have no big answers for what us young folks need for clothes free life or how to save naturism, or what clubs and organizations “need” to be doing. Those discussions are important and require significant attention, but that’s not what I wanted to focus on here, because I don’t the magic answer. For now, I have my personal tumbles and triumphs over the course of this first year, the things I continue to work through, the giant baby steps I take to create my clothes free experience. And I have to say, I feel powerful and inspired everyday of my clothes free life.