From as far back as I can remember, I’ve dreamed about being naked, and always my nakedness was coupled with feelings of liberation, elation, and joy. I never understood the, “Oops, I forgot to wear clothes to school!” nightmare. Shame, vulnerability, all those negative emotions we associate with baring our bodies, never entered into the equation. But most of my growing up was wracked with social anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy. Showering with the other boys at my elementary school (back when public showering was a thing) terrified me, and I was the only student who refused to remove their underwear, often going sopping wet to the next class. I was bullied mercilessly for my crooked teeth and cleft lip and asymmetrical nose, and that bullying scared me away from making any friends. And so I learned at a young age to recede into myself, to shun society with all its norms and etiquette. I wanted nothing but to be true to myself, to find acceptance in the eyes of my family and teachers and classmates. And in my dreams, I had that.
I am still unsure whether my naked dreaming was a reflection of a deeper desire to fit in, but always in those dreams, my nakedness was met with nonchalance. There was never any shame or judgment. My parents would arrive from work, or my sister from college, to find me lounging about the living room without a stitch. Nothing in their expressions indicated anything was out of the ordinary. I would eventually conform my life to my dreams, discarding my pajamas at the first sign of an empty house, and more times than I can count, dared myself to remain naked whenever the front door would open. But I could never muster the courage. Always a panic set in, and a rush for the shorts hidden in my secret hiding spot. Discovering, years later, that people existed in the real world who did, in fact, go without clothing, was utterly surreal to me. It was like dreaming you could fly, then discovering there’s a small camp in France where people do fly.
At some point my heart so ached to be free, it often rivaled my pubescent drive for sex. I remember playing video games with a friend—we were no more than fifteen at the time—when the usual guy-talk came up: girls, oral sex, pornography, masturbation; everything was on the table, no subject taboo for two testosterone-fueled high school boys. But when I broached the subject of casual nudity, things got awkward. “Do you ever just . . . walk around the house naked?” was a question that seemed to confuse him, and it made us both feel uncomfortable, so I never brought it up again.
Sometimes I feel my becoming a nudist is part of some Inception-type plot. It’s like God or Fate or the author of the universe simply willed this happen to me, as if I had no choice in the matter. Even after visiting my first clothes-free beach on the Greek island of Eos, the dreams didn’t stop. They still haven’t. Because I am not free. Because, despite my efforts to live in a manner that feels most genuine, I know the tide of opinion moves against me. Social media platforms like Twitter provide a way for people who share the same ideals to connect, something I wish existed when I was a naked kid fearing for my sanity, but too often, it seems, every online nudist is screaming for the same thing. Acceptance. My co-workers do not know I am a nudist, nor does my wife’s family. She told me, in fact, to unfriend her on Facebook, lest my secret get out. But I think they know already, given my fervent stance on certain subjects. Barefoot outdoors? Thong-bikinis? Nudes in art? I am pro anything touching on nakedness. Visiting the Louvre with my family last year, with all those naked statues in it, was a religious experience. But to express my true longings, I know, would bring not condemnation, but quiet rejection, discomfort. “If he’s into that, what other sick things is he into?”
Here’s a little secret you may not know about me, something that is, I believe, true for most social-media nudists. I *dance* around how much I expose myself online. There are times when I am feeling confident, when the world seems more accepting of public nudity, and I will change my profile to the one that suits me best. Then, in a moment of doubt, I’ll change the image to something less risky. I do the same thing with this blog, adding and removing images of myself as the spirit moves me. Hell, this very blog post may disappear after you read it. How greatly my shame-demons are conjurings of my own, and how much they reflect the real world, I’ll probably never know.
Truth be told, I hate wearing clothes. I hate fashion trends and designer labels, and those pesky buttons that come loose all the time, and T-Shirts that fade and shrink, and jeans that pinch you in the crotch when you sit down. I hate walking into my closet every day, knowing I am forced to choose something I don’t want to choose. I hate leaving my home a strolling billboard for Polo and Ralph Lauren or whatever company I happen to be wearing. People say your state of dress expresses your personality, but no superficial layer can express who I am but my own skin. But most of all, I just hate underwear. Underwear is disgusting, a literal petrie dish of human filth you keep pressed to your most sensitive organs, which, depending on your day, gets grosser as the hours tick by.
I want to live in a world where being a nudist isn’t a thing, because being naked will mean no more than wearing shorts or flip flops. I want to visit my mailbox without having to hide from the lady walking her dog. I want to swim in my backward without worrying about the neighbors’ second-story windows. I want to have a picnic at the park, to enjoy the brush of grass, the crispness of a fallen leaf, the touch of reaching brambles, without clothes getting in the way. I want to kayak at the spring near my house, ride Florida’s 35-mile bike trail, sail to a nearby island, camp at the far end of the beach, and I want to do it as God and Nature and evolution, or whatever theory you happen to subscribe to, intended.
I believe everything is done better naked, and that life should be lived naked when possible, because human beings were not meant to always wear clothes, and ridding ourselves of shame and modesty can only lead to healthier, happier lives. I long for the day when I will find myself, just Nick, out in the world as I was born, with like-minded people whose spirits are free, who, like young children, are innocent to the labels the world places on them.
Having received nothing but love and support for every nudist-related article, image and video I post, and for my nudist fiction, for which nobody, not ONE critic, has yet to find fault, I am led to believe that deep down, most people accept that body taboos are irrational, that it is only a matter of time before we grow out of our medieval mindset to a freer and more accepting world. That perhaps it is time to let go of shame, and show everyone who I am, a nudist, and proud of it.