I was speaking this week to a group of women and children at a homeless shelter in Los Angeles and a 14-year-old girl came over to talk to me when I was done. I sat down with her and we talked about what was on her mind. I recognized a lot myself in her at that age, and related to what she was saying. One issue we talked about was being labeled weird by some of the kids at her school because she didn’t like the same music that they did. I smiled, remembering that being called weird at that age, and perhaps, any age, can seem like a badge of shame.
I smiled at her and asked her why she didn’t like that word? I asked her what that word meant to her. She said, it means she’s not like everybody else. I asked her why she wanted to be like everybody else rather than who she was. She paused. I told her that I would wear that label like a badge of honor, because it meant she wasn’t following the pack, or the rest of kids just to fit in, she was being true to herself, and that is something that most of those kids probably couldn’t claim as their own.
I’ve written in a previous blog about letting your freak flag fly, and when I say that I’m not saying you are a freak, I’m saying let those things that some may label freaky, or weird, or different, be what sets you apart, be what showcases who you are and what you love, and to never apologize for any of that. I’ve learned along my path that those things that may be weird to the masses are what connect me to the closest people in my life, and the ones I admire and love the most. There is a group out there for everyone, and if groups aren’t your thing, there are certainly individuals who share your interests or way of doing things that will think that weirdness is awsomeness.
Now I remember that at 14 many of us just want to blend in, we don’t want any, what we perceive as, unwanted attention, we want to look like we’re just like everyone else, but really all we’re doing is telling ourselves that our true selves isn’t good enough, and that we should hide who we truly are to be accepted by a group of people who won’t accept us for who we are. It’s easy now for me to see how ludicrous that is, but I was that 14-year-old girl, in fact I was that 14-year-old girl until I was 35 years old and had to accept and learn who I truly was at 35 because my life depended on it, because I had lived those 35 years only ever allowing you all to see who I thought you wanted to see so you wouldn’t ask me any questions, because I feared if you did, you would see how ugly a person I really was, and how unworthy I was.
I shared that with my new friend and she looked at me in disbelief. I smiled again and told her I understood that may seem like a far-fetched tale, but that today I look at all of those “weird” things and I wear them proudly, they are what make me me, and they are the best parts of me, those things that make me smile, set my heart on fire, and, most importantly, make me laugh.
Today if someone would tell me I was just like everybody else I would cringe because I would think I wasn’t sharing my authentic self with them. I was holding back. My flaws, my weirdness, my falls are what connect me to all of you, they are what we have in common, they are what make me, and all of us, uniquely us, because life is messy, life is unpredictable, life is about trying new things and celebrating what we love, and even though we may share commonalities, no one is us, no one is me, and, no one is you. Be weird, be brave, be your authentic you, without fear, and if someone tells you you’re weird, thank them, because in my book, that is one of the biggest compliments anyone can give me, because it means I am being myself today.
SLAY OF THE DAY: Have you ever been called weird? What does that word mean to you? Is it negative? Why? Can you find the positive in that word? If not, why not? Does it take you back to being a kid? What has been your experience with the word? Was it a word used to bully you? How does it make you feel now? What about yourself would others think is weird? What do you think is weird? Do you still feel ashamed of those things, or feel you need to hide them? What if you didn’t? What if you took that word back and looked at it as a positive word, a compliment even, what if you celebrated all the things you thought, or others have thought, were weird? Do it SLAYER, celebrate your weird, smile, and know that is what makes you you, maybe even the best parts. SLAY on!
S – self L – love A – appreciate Y – you