Have you ever tried to "fit in"? A lot of us encounter this in high school. I remember ironing my hair or rolling it on big, orange juice cans to straighten it because I wanted to look like Kathy So-and-so (not her real name) who looked a lot like a blonde Cher. I liked liverwurst sandwiches, so I often ate alone in the cafeteria so that no one would notice my unconventional choice for lunch. I loved school -- that wasn't too unusual. Our public school was known for it's wonderful teachers and programs and there were generous budgets for education back then (in the "good old days"). However, I really loved school and I wanted more -- that wasn't shared by all. In the end, all the things that made me a little weird (there are many more that I haven't even mentioned) got me a scholarship as an exchange student to Brazil at the ripe, old age of 16! The interviewing committee decided I was a good candidate because, among other things, I was willing to try different things.
What was truly phenomenal for me was this gave me the chance to really be me! I knew I couldn't fake the interviews and when I was validated for that (by being awarded this life-changing, fabulous experience) there was nothing holding me back. I had a fantastic year in a totally different culture, speaking a completely foreign language, and embracing my quirks. I was happy and I felt confident and successful, something that didn't come easily when I was desperately trying to have stick-straight hair and hiding my lunches.
This week's Pleasure Peek, from Joss Whedon (American screenwriter, director, producer, comic book author, and composer),
"Whatever makes you weird is probably your greatest asset"
for me, addresses the ways we sometimes feel like we don't "fit in". When we
are worried that we aren't like another person or group of people, we're probably overlooking our unique gifts. None of us are just like someone else -- we are proverbial snowflakes, no two alike. Yet, we sometimes feel like we should dress, act, speak, and think the same as a particular group, even when it just doesn't feel right. When I was trying to tame my curly hair and hiding out in the cafeteria, it was a lot of work and not the kind that feels good or gets great results. My year in Brazil, was the easiest I'd ever experienced. Not only was I getting to know a new corner of the world, but they were able to ask me about the U.S. and I busted some of their ideas about what "all Americans" were like. It was a gift on both sides.
I suggest, if you find yourself trying to squeeze your edges into a round hole, let it go! Flaunt your freak flag -- be who you really are. I guarantee there are people out there that need you to do that. You will inspire and encourage and you'll feel better. You'll attract your true tribe. And, remember what Oscar Wilde said:
"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."