Dec 8: Beautifully Different

Today’s Reverb 10 prompt says: Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

I have a confession to make: I have always been afraid of being different.  I’m not sure, but I think that this stems from elementary school, where I was branded the “weird” one.  I was tortured.  I was tormented.  And I was so desperate to fit in.

In Grade Six I spent the year at the same school as my best friend.  It was more than 200km from my old school, and it was a Fresh Start.  And so desperate was I to fit in that I refused to play with my friend at recess or lunch.  I ditched her and found (slightly) more socially acceptable friends to play with when people were watching.  I don’t regret finding the friends (we’re still friends), but I do regret selling out for the sake of popularity (almost 20 years later I’m still sorry).  Not that it even worked, because I was never popular, only mildly less-mocked.  I’m not the “popular” type, and I don’t have “popular” friends.  It took me a long time to realize that that’s a good thing.

My point is that my track record when it comes to embracing my own differences is…not so good.  Being unique scares the hell out of me…unless it’s in a business sense, in which case NOT being unique scares the hell out of me while being TOO unique ALSO scares the hell out of me. I’ve always tended to look for a category to fit into…a way to make sure I belong.

A few weeks ago I was journalling, and I wrote “I would LOVE to be the ‘fat, old dancer’ …as long as I was dancing on my OWN terms.”  And I think that sums up my changing attitude towards differences.  I was the “fat, old dancer” …in 2005, when I took a ballet class with people 10 years younger than me.  It wasn’t particularly empowering.  I squeezed into XXL leotards and worked my butt off and tried not to look in the mirror.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  That’s still trying *not* to be different.  I’m talking about being someone who who blazes her own trail, who dances for the love of it and not for any kind of approval, who shares her gifts because she feels them bursting out of her.  If I ever take another ballet class I’ll be the one in the back with the yoga pants on, probably in bare feet, who works her butt off at the barre and unapologetically sits out the jumps and turns.  At least I hope I’d be here…right now I’m just thinking about being there (this -or something like it- is a goal for 2011, I think).

Where was I?  Ah yes, differences…mine.  What makes me different and lights people up?  I think my ramblings on the subject so far are a good indication that I have a lot of trouble answering that question.  My mind automatically skips to things that are “wrong” with me, or things that I didn’t do.  It reminds me of my Canadian Literature class…the prof asked us to define what it means to be Canadian without using “we aren’t” statements.  “Don’t tell me what you’re not,” she said, “tell me what you are.”  And we were all stumped.

I have only one answer to give: What makes me different is the unique combination of experiences, genetics, and personality that makes up my background.  That’s what makes us all different.  But since you probably want specifics, here’s what came to mind:

-I giggle at fart jokes
-I compliment strangers (when I’m feeling brave)
-I would rather dance in front of thousands than speak in front of ANYONE
-I create safe and sacred space to move in
-I am a domestic goddess
-I am rediscovering my love of writing
-I am creating my own spiritual practice
-I love happy bubbly movies.  When things get really romantic I ALWAYS hug a pillow…even if my husband’s right there with me.
-I am possibly the only 30 year old in the world who got jumping-up-and-down-excited when I spotted a book on hold for “Errol Flynn” at the library.
-I am a British TV nerd.  My favourite show is The Avengers.
-I am a recovering ballerina
-I have a master level in Reiki, but I only practice on myself and my family
-I am an air sign, and I am constantly changing and evolving and having “realizations” about myself…I literally do this every day.  My husband (who is an earth sign) thinks it’s HILARIOUS.

Here’s the thing…these things aren’t “differences”on their own…they’re characteristics.  Some people will share one or two or a few of them.  No one will share all of them (if I’m wrong, EMAIL ME…you’re my new best friend :-P).  I guess that’s why I’m not sure how to answer this question…I don’t know how I can be different not-compared to anyone, and I don’t know who to compare myself to…

…and what do I do that lights people up?  I help them to dance their own dance (or I did…and I will).  I try to live with an open heart and pass on the joy I find.  I write…and sometimes share my writings.  I tell people when they inspire me.

That’s me.  That’s what I do.

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