In Case You’re Weird

flickr, chavezdaus

The other night, in the middle of the night, my husband and I both woke from bad dreams at 3:15 in the morning.

I dreamed that I had been passed over (unfairly, of course) for a place on the International Scholars Team.

He dreamed that he couldn’t get away from a bunch of stinky cheese.

Who could go back to sleep after learning that?

3:15 in the morning is a weird time of day.  It’s one of those times when it’s easy to confuse “up” with “down.”  Things feel really really SERIOUS at 3:15 in the morning.  Everything that’s “wrong” with the world seems really insurmountable a few hours before dawn.

In general, I try not to make too many major life decisions then, although, now that I think about it, 3:15 in the morning was EXACTLY the time I woke up two years ago with this phrase ringing in my head:  “Life After Tampons.  Life After Tampons.  Do I have the STONES to name my business Life After Tampons?”

This time, though, I wasn’t thinking of any of those things.  I was thinking of how very different I am from anyone I have ever really loved.

And then I started thinking about how tricky it is to be the odd duck throughout life.

I realize that much of my early life was spent trying to “fit in” in a world where I didn’t feel like I belonged.  When you’re the weird one, but you aren’t confident yet enough to pull it off without a care for the opinions of others, you spend a whole lot of fruitless time trying to blend in.

You try not to stick out too much.

Which is a lousy-ass plan when, essentially, you can’t behave in any sustainable way like other people.

I just never cared for the stuff other girls cared for.  The tittering and twittering of silly little girls never really interested me.  I quickly grew bored.  I had to pretend like I wasn’t, of course, because young girls are particularly brutal to the odd ducks among them.

Later, I sublimated my feelings of inadequacy with my newfound discovery that I could excel at things.  I was not a very kind competitor.  It felt like my survival depended on my success, and, since the stakes felt so very high, it didn’t really matter to me what happened to you when I won.

When you’re in survival mode, it’s every man for himself, right?

During these years, I kinda thumbed my nose at the whole idea that I would want to fit in with the “cheerleader types.”  Much, much later, I learned that those poor “cheerleader types” suffered, too.

Growing up is brutal on us all.

These days, I’ve found that I’m much happier when I don’t spend my time looking for how I’m different from others.  I don’t need to manufacture feelings of rejection.  Midlife martyrdom is so completely unattractive.

Instead, I try and look for ways that I can connect with others.  I’ve found that I don’t have to be like them at all in order to do that.

Except for this one thing:

I need to be like others in that I am perfectly imperfectly HUMAN.

You cannot give away what you haven’t got, love.  If what you want is love and acceptance from others, what you need to give is love and acceptance TO others.

Practice giving away what you seek in life. (Click to tweet)

Practice Truth.

Practice Love.

Practice Compassion.

Practice Mercy.

Practice Forgiveness.

And, practice Generosity of Spirit.

These are the true and eternal gifts of the holidays and every season.

Peace on Earth.

Good will toward men.

Amen.

Or, as my friend Bill C. used to say, “Aaah, (wo)men.”

Love, Jen

photo: flickr, chavezdaus

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Comments from the LAT Wisdom Circle

22 Responses to In Case You’re Weird

  1. Kathryne says:

    Practice giving away what you seek in life–ding, ding, ding. Light bulb moment. Such a simple concept, yet so few of us put this into PRACTICE!
    Thanks, Jennifer, for making me more aware, more sensitive, more mindful.
    It is a wonderful holiday gift you have given me.
    I hope what you have given away comes back to you in plenty.

    • Jennifer says:

      You just brought it back to me, beautiful Kathryne. I need to be seen making a difference. Yep. It’s my dirty little wonderful secret!

  2. Sue DeVito says:

    Here’s some of my weirdness: I hope to retire from my current job in about 4 years and do what I really want to do. For the last couple of years I have been keeping a running list of the things I will do on my last day (all the stuff I never felt I could do in this stuffy corporate atmosphere). The list include climbing the tree in front of one of our corporate offices and saluting people as they go in and out, riding a scooter through the office, dressing up a pair of shrubs with wigs, hats and glasses outside the office and taking my pictures with them, wear a rubby chicken suit in to work, dye my hair purple, and best of all, bring in my Hermey doll (the elf in Rudolph who wants to be a dentist) and have him play ‘I am not just a misfit, you can’t fire me I QUIT’ while I sing along! I have no idea how many of these things I will actually do, but it keeps me going just to think about them!

  3. Patty says:

    Great post, Jen. And thank you for the reminder of another thing that brings me joy…being who I am without apology. I love that you mention about connection vs. fitting in. I too, had realized early on that my non-conformist ways weren’t conducive to popularity. Although I may have coveted it on some level in my young heart, I wasn’t going to waste my energy on contorting myself into something I wasn’t, although I channeled it in other depleting ways through a habit of people-pleasing and what not. Isn’t it wonderful that we’ve finally reached the awareness that our “freak flag” or weirdness is also the key to our unique wisdom brand and what ultimately leads to our real connection and the resources we have to serve from?!

  4. Patti says:

    I struggle with just the opposite…finding my nonconformist self instead of always hiding behind what is accepted and expected.

  5. Beth says:

    There is awesome truth in your statement – “You cannot give away what you haven’t got, love. If what you want is love and acceptance from others, what you need to give is love and acceptance TO others.”
    I’ve found that the first recipient of love and acceptance must be my own soul. I think you can fake giving to others to a certain extent… but it can be seen as needy or manipulative – thus not truly netting the desired love or warm fuzzies you seek.
    When I live in genuine acceptance and peace with who I am and what I’m becoming, only then can I give freely to others without any expectation in return. That generosity of spirit can feel very risky at first, but there is such freedom in self-acceptance I don’t “need” the affirmation or love from others. Win-win if they happen to extend love to me in return!

  6. Nicole says:

    I LOVE the weirdness. Embrace the weirdness. Everything else is so boring…and so….so….so vanilla! Took me a long time to realize that it was okay that I didn’t fit in with the girly-girls. But now I have come to appreciate that girly-girls have their good points, just like us overachieving tom-boys who like to compete and win things have our good points. Takes all kinds to make the world go ’round. I’m getting better at “connecting” with the ladies in life and embracing some of my more female traits.

    • Jennifer says:

      A lot of the men I know tell me that “vanilla” is their favorite flavor of ice cream. This was news to me. I never thought a vanilla as a flavor at all. I always just considered a base you add other stuff to.

  7. Theresa says:

    Loved this column! I’ve never had to run from stinky cheese but I have run away from my own weirdness. No more! When I became single again and was raising my daughter by myself I was worried that I wasn’t going to be a good enough mom. My Mom told me that I turned out ok and that if I just did what I felt was right that I’d get through it. So, I started to acknowledge all my idiosyncrasies, enjoyed doing the things I loved to do and introduced the to my daughter. Some she liked or loved, some she hated. But, as she says now, “I embrace my weirdness, Mom, and your wierdness and Dad’s wierdness. It’s who we are.” Spoken like a true daughter of mine. First, be true to yourself, love yourself, then you can give so much more back. It’s not always easy for me but I’m getting better at it, with your help, Jen.

    • Jennifer says:

      Yes. I decided I would never win at “Kool Aid” mom. So, since then, I’ve just been going for Queen of Irreverence and hoping that did the trick. We laugh a lot.

  8. deborah says:

    I always felt different so I do identify with this post. my self esteem and my life suffered as a result of this. I have come to revel in my uniqueness. and I now look for the positive in it. I am comfortable in it now and I have brought up a bunch of kids who are unique and not ashamed of it. I have also learn’t to and am in the process of loving myself before others. Of course it’s in the making but it feels good to be Beautiful Me and not who others think I should be.

  9. SherriS. says:

    First off I’m shocked that you and your hubs woke up from bad dreams at the same time! Then I’m sitting here wondering if I’m weird – I finally found out the name for it was Introvert and that others have “it” so I’m not all that weird if others are like that?! Yeah, throw in I’m a “super-sensitive” person too. So I’m probably weird to the normal peeps. I am ME – I just sadly need to feel valued especially by my loved ones and they keep disappointing me (all except my inner circle of 3 – my husband, bff and closest sister).

    I’ve bookmarked your list for daily reference. I’ve got to work on this obviously. Thanks Jenn – Merry Christmas in case I’m not on here for a while.

  10. Hey Jen…
    I loved this post. Thank you for being so REAL. It so helps.

    I’ve always felt like I was an alien here, cuz I see the world from such a diff. perspective (I’m a medium), and didn’t want to embrace my humanness. Now that I’m buying fewer and fewer tampons (in peri-menopause)…I am embracing all of who I am…and when I share that with my peeps…it’s just so endearing…we are truly all mirrors for one another.

    Thank you for being you!
    hugs,
    Sandy

    • Jennifer says:

      oooooh, a MEDIUM. That is so freaking exotic — I mean completely mainstream, no need to feel weird about that at ALL. Thank you for writing in. Love, Jen

  11. Candace says:

    Merry whateverukah to you.
    That was excellent!
    It takes many years to admit you don’t want what they all want.
    And that’s why you are different.

    That was great..relax and enjoy family, friends and the rest of the year!

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