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Because You’re Great, They’ll Call You Weird

Written by: | Monday, October 22nd, 2012

There. I said it. If you are great at what you do, you stand out. And to most people, standing out makes you different – and different makes you weird.

Think of some of history’s great weirdos:

• Lady Gaga

• JK Rowling

• Amelia Earhart

• Picasso

• Walt Whitman

• Dalai Lama

• Michelango

• Leonardo da Vinci

• Me

• You

Different isn’t wrong, its just different. Maybe what we should work on is normalizing different. Maybe what we should work on is creating the ability for all of us to fully realize our unique abilities and feel like it is the right thing to be who we are – however it shows up.

I have spent my life watching over my shoulder, wondering what people who I don’t know, or really care about, think about me. It keeps me small. It keeps me from trying the things my heart desires and my passions scream for. And though I keep reminding myself of the great line, “What you think of me is none of my business,” there is still some part of my thinking that gets caught up in hiding what makes me great and different and weird.

So why do I care so much? Not sure. Maybe it is part of our fight or flight reflex – one that feels it is safer to blend than stand out. It is safer to be small, play it safe and look like everyone else. Author E.E. Cummings says it best, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” I totally see the need for courage.

I remember once as a kid getting a truly horrid haircut. The haircut was so bad I should have gotten a refund. In my meltdown I boldly declared that I was not going out of the house (including not going to school) until it grew back – weeks, maybe months. My mother, in her courageous wisdom tried to remind me of this blog’s lesson by saying, “what makes you think anyone is looking at you anyway?” I told her, “They are pointing and laughing!” And of course they weren’t – it was just a story in my head. Or, if it were even possible that they did find my haircut comical, it was for a moment and it was over – and it didn’t matter one speck. Zippo. Nada. Nothing. Who really cares?

What I now realize as I travel, coach and teach is that I am not alone in this – so many of us care what others think about us – and we change what we do, think, believe and choose because someone may be watching – and worse yet, actually comment. We are afraid of others’ random judgments. We stop dancing when we hear music we love, we buy things that others say are hip instead of what we want, we whisper when we want to shout. We tone it down until it is bland, average and not at all who we are – because someone may be watching.

Remember this other great quote from E.E. Cummings, “To be nobody but yourself in a world that’s doing its best to make you somebody else is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting.”

What would it take to embrace your differences – your inner weirdo – your inner freakness (as a speaker and author Frank Keck says)? You know they are going to stare anyway, so smile, acknowledge the attention, then go do something amazing and don’t look back.

 

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