If you've participated in my "Public Speaking for Awkward Dorks" program, you know that I'm already a big fan of weird. Enjoy Jason's post, and check out the link at the bottom to his new book!
Thou Shalt Hide Thy Weirdness
One day my four-year-old daughter Lucy was skimming down the sidewalk on her kick scooter.
She was gripping the handlebar with one hand and holding an open umbrella with the other. While wearing a bike helmet and snow boots. On a sunny, seventy-three-degree day.
It’s so weird that I’d bet anything that of the six billion plus people in the world, not one other person was doing and wearing the exact same thing at that moment. Maybe not ever or since. That’s as weird as it gets.
It was also a great big life lesson.
You see, in Lucy’s head, there was nothing weird about it. She was in the moment, free of pretense, and free of shame. She was living life the way it was meant to be lived.
Oh, how I wish I could be that free again.
In fact, we all were, in the beginning, when we were young. But eventually someone sees us living our bliss, decides it’s weird, and shames us. We get made fun of in the schoolyard, on the bus, or across the dinner table. For the first time, it occurs to us that some of the things we do might be looked upon with contempt by another person.
From then on, we start paying attention. We start noticing what’s “in” and what’s not. We take heed of the things that could get us ridiculed, singled out, and shamed. And we stop doing them. We smooth out the rough edges and start hiding our weirdness. And one by one, little parts of us die.
It’s quite possibly the greatest tragedy of our lives that as we end up spending most of them conforming to the world around us, all to avoid that feeling of shame ever again.
But the weird part of us is what makes us unique. And the unique part of us is what the world needs most.
Speaker, author, self-proclaimed freak, and my friend, David Rendall, says, “What makes us weird is what makes us wonderful.” He offers up Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as a perfect example. His unusual nose was weird; the subject of ridicule and derision. But on that fateful “foggy Christmas Eve,” it became an irreplaceable advantage, making him a hero.
Once in a while, you’ll see an elderly person who quit buying in to the lie that our weirdness is a weakness. They’re livin’ la vida loca, carefree and without reservation. On the surface, it’s easy to write them off as experiencing early stage dementia. But if you look closer, you’ll see that they have all their wits about them. They’ve just decided it’s too expensive to pay attention to what everyone else thinks, so they stopped trying to hide their weirdness.
They discovered that people only have the power to shame us if we give it to them.
Well I don’t want to wait till I’m seventy to embrace that truth. I don’t want to hide the best part of myself under a bushel. I want to live my life like Lucy: free, in the moment, and gloriously weird.
Won’t you join me?
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Jason Kotecki is an artist, professional speaker, and author of the book "Penguins Can't Fly +39 Other Rules That Don't Exist," which uncovers some of the most useless so-called rules we can find ourselves living by. It explores some small but mighty actions you can take to turn your life into the fun, adventurous and exciting story you deserve. This beautiful 240-page hardcover work of art is a magical combination of Jason’s whimsical illustrations, humorous wit, and poignant anecdotes. Learn more at RulesThatDontExist.com