I always thought I was weird. I felt like an outcast in middle and high school, Girl Scouts, college, and most of my jobs. I still feel weird sometimes. I never felt twelve when I was twelve, I never felt twenty-five when I was twenty-five, and I don’t feel like I’m forty-eight now. Whatever those ages are supposed to feel like, all I knew was that I didn’t think or feel like anyone else. When my friends were writing notes back and forth about the latest drama, I participated just to be part of the “in” crowd. Preoccupied with my social standing, I rarely contributed during class, which made me feel disconnected and even more like an outcast. Weird again.
My friends used to say I was too honest. I disagreed. I was being me, voicing observations about deeper issues that aren’t always easy to discuss. I felt bad about this. I thought it was wrong. I wanted desperately to be liked, included in the popular crowd, and admired by the boys.
To this day, I often feel weird. I’m in this kick-ass mentoring group with a bunch of other brilliant life coaches. They are a diverse group of women, ranging from a singer/songwriter to authors to community movers and shakers. Just a few days ago, someone said they liked how straightforward I am, how I demystify coaching; how I’m not fluff and I’m a little gruff, and that’s okay. All I heard was the “gruff” part. Suddenly I felt fifteen and weird again. I found myself wronging myself for being different, being honest, straightforward, and perhaps too direct. I asked my husband if he thought I was too gruff. He said, “This is what people love about you.”
Suddenly, I saw it. The very reason I’d always felt weird is just my unique talent. It’s the reason I’m good at my craft. The gruff honesty is why my clients and my friends like me. There are some people who like the truth the way I tell it. Others don’t. Some want a thick layer of sugar coating, others want it thin, and then there are those who don’t like any icing at all. I’m the “no-icing” coach. I tell the truth in a straightforward, direct, and open way. I’m not always careful with my words, nor am I always eloquent, but I care about my clients so deeply I consider them owners of a piece of my heart. My compassion is as boundless as my candor.
What I used to call my weird is really my wonderful. What I once thought was wrong or bad, mostly by other people’s standards, is what makes me stand out from the crowd. It is my asset, my talent, and my gift to see through people’s stories, excuses, and obstacles. With this clarity, they can find their own weird and see the wonder in it, too. Making myself wrong for being my essential self does not serve me, nor does it serve my clients, friends, or family. Trying to be someone else is fake, boring, and just plain ol’ vanilla.
So, what is weird about you? How can you make what’s weird wonderful? Find one trait that you have denied, contained and pushed away, and find what’s wonderful about it. Not everyone will love you or even like you. But like my kick-ass colleague said, that’s okay.