My Freedom Story: Camille of This American Girl

Friday, October 03, 2014

It's quite rare to encounter individuals who radiate freedom and boundless energy in daily life. So I often look online for my tribe and find more and more people who choose to be themselves despite what the world dictates. Last week, we featured Lydia of Screw the Cubicle who helps corporate prisoners escape the confines of the 9-5 life.

This week, we're featuring Camille of This American Girl who is constantly exploring gorgeous tropical destinations all over the world. Here's her version of freedom and what it takes:

What's your idea of freedom?

To me freedom is the ability to be who I am, when I am, where I am. That might look like acting with purpose instead of fear of failure, expressing joyfully instead of with controlled perfectionism, creating for the sake of creating without attaching to the outcome, loving myself and others without needing them to be any different than they already are, or seeing the beauty of every single moment no matter how different it may look from what I expected.

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Share your back story.

Freedom through creative expression has always been extremely important to me. As a child I broke into my mother’s supply of expensive inks and painted my entire face and body. I sang, danced, and performed when family members came over to our house. Eventually I began performing on stages for audiences in musical theater productions. Those were the moments when I felt the freest.

When adolescence kicked in, so did my voice of self-criticism. I no longer wanted to be different, I wanted to be accepted. Expression opened me to judgment from the outside world. I began to conform to who I thought I was supposed to be instead of simply being who I was.

By the time I graduated college I had abandoned theater altogether because I was afraid of rejection and failure. Instead I pursued a business degree, a safe path that assured a steady paycheck and a predictable life. At 24 I had a fancy job title, an impressive salary, a big apartment, a successful boyfriend, and an extensive shoe collection. Yet I felt completely trapped in my own anxiety and dissatisfaction. I planned my life according a mold I thought I wanted to fill, but it never fit.

Suddenly I found myself jobless, boyfriendless, and completely confused about what I wanted. Previously I spent all of my time working at my job, working on my relationship, and working on putting together the best gathering for friends and family, so when I wasn’t working, I wasn’t even sure what I liked to do. 

That’s when my story of freedom began.

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What steps did you take to achieve your freedom?

First I knew that what I needed was space. I needed space to remember who I was and what I wanted and surrounded by the visual cues of my old life that felt extremely challenging. This is what initially drove me to book a flight to Costa Rica. I came with the intention of giving myself a couple of months to relax on the beach and connect with my personal joy before returning to the USA and starting over.

In Costa Rica I wore hardly any clothes and I hardly ever wore shoes. I connected with nature, befriended people from all over the world, challenged my ideas about everything, lived on little money, and did whatever I wanted. My life was my own. For the first time since childhood I felt free. When I returned to the states I didn’t want to lose that feeling.

At the time I interpreted freedom as the ability to move at will, so I sold everything I owned to remove my physical baggage and to have enough money to not have to work. When I realized that wouldn’t last forever, I began considering how I could create a business where I could work from anywhere and work very little. I had seen others do it online by creating blogs, so I decided to start my own.
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My blog became a new form of expression in my life. It became a way for me to share my self-discovery with whomever chose to read it. I worked against my innate perfectionism by sharing my imperfect truths, my imperfect grammar, and my imperfect photography with the World Wide Web. That practice helped me break through the walls that entrapped my creativity. I began to shine in ways I never could have imagined.

When I began practicing yoga in Costa Rica I experienced an even deeper form of freedom. Freedom that existed no matter the outside circumstances. Freedom I could find within my own being. I discovered limitless freedom. Today I practice using mindfulness that I have cultivated in yoga to help me experience greater freedom in everything that I do. Being fully present and aware in life as it is happening, I have the ability to respond to circumstances in a way that feels true to me.

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How long did it take for you to live freely?

I began earning an income to support my travels online about a year after I started blogging, however from the moment I arrived in Costa Rica I began living free. Once I decided to live because it felt good, to live from a place of joy, I became instantly free. Yet even today, without anything tying me to a physical location, there are moments that I feel trapped by my circumstances or my feelings. Freedom is more of a practice rather than an achievement. It’s something I strive to embody more fully every single moment of every single day.

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What was the biggest challenge you've faced?

The biggest challenge I have faced is unlearning the limiting beliefs ingrained in me by my past experiences. To me, reenacting patterns or staying stuck in old stories out of fear is the opposite of freedom. I may not work inside of a box or feel encaged in a relationship, but like everyone I can build walls that limit me. I practice opening myself to greater possibility, which expands my ability to experience even greater freedom. How? By doing things that scare me like jumping off of waterfalls and surfing in the ocean and traveling to countries where I know no one. By listening to the beliefs of others with an open mind even when it feels easier to judge. By turning inward when something feels difficult to bear and asking myself how this challenge is an opportunity for self-growth. By allowing life to show me its magic instead of needing to anticipate or control what happens. Each time I do this the world shows me how limitless it truly is. What could be more freeing than that?

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What advice can you give to others who want to live life on their own terms?

Go be alone somewhere. The first step in freedom is connecting deeply with your inner voice of wisdom that contains the intelligence to know what you truly want and need. You need physical, emotional, and mental space to do that. Then let go of everything that you can in order to create the openness to move in the direction of the life that you want. When you ask yourself “what is essential” you begin to see how few things you actually need. Learn to live with less and you will receive so, so, so much more.

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Can you tell us of other people who are on the same path?

I know so many wonderful, inspiring people, but here are a few near and dear to me who inspire me in my own pursuit of freedom.

I met Gayle of Live2Heal when I was traveling through Cambodia. She was teaching yoga classes on the beach and we instantly clicked. At only 25 she is already traveling the world working as a yoga instructor, life coach, and licensed hypnotherapist, recently volunteering to teach yoga to underprivileged women in Cambodia. Gayle embodies the freedom one can experience with others when she truly knows and loves herself. She constantly inspires me to engage more authentically in relationships with those around me.

One of the freest people I know, Sarah of Skin Deep Nomad was born and raised in Switzerland, had a long stint as a New Yorker, and has been living nomadically around the world for years. She has a profound ability to play and be silly, a wonderful way to connect with freedom. We recently took a motorbiking trip together through the countryside in Laos in torrential downpours, danced barefoot to reggae on islands in Indonesia, and ate more street food than should ever be acceptable in Thailand. She works as a fashion photographer helping travelers connect with their own freedom through nude photoshoots in nature.

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My dear friend Avani of Om Pura Shanti is a certified yoga instructor, licensed massage therapist, and a kick ass business woman from Maine who owns a yoga studio and guesthouse in front of the beach in the South Caribbean of Costa Rica. She never fails to surprise me with her ever-evolving knowledge and expansion of her own personal freedom through her yoga, breathwork, and reiki practices. The joy and bliss she feels living in Costa Rica shows me that we can be rooted in a place and still experience incredible freedom.

I recently met travel blogger Anna of The Legendary Adventures of Anna on a press trip in Costa Rica and we clicked immediately. I love that she is a woman who does whatever she wants. She goes wherever she wants, she says whatever she wants, she wears whatever she wants, she lives the life that she wants. In a world where it's so easy to conform to who others think you should be, she inspires me to be even more myself and to own that.

More Freedom Stories here

Want to share your freedom story? Send it to solesisters.weare [at] or leave a comment below.

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Camille is a coconut-loving, barefoot, beach bum who finds bliss exploring the endless possibilities of the Earth. She aims to inspire people to release their fears, chase their dreams, and live life on purpose. Follow her journey on her blog: This American Girl.

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