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 pushed myself to come up with ten things that make me different:
- My sense of style
- My ability to confront cancer, poverty, addiction, and myriad other slings and arrows with a certain amount of fortitude
- The relative fluidity with which I experience sexuality and gender
- My aptitude for problem-solving
- My willingness to jump in and create that which I see lacking
- My emotional depth
- The acid burn scars on my cheeks from a childhood accident
- My slightly unusual ethnic/religious Mennonite background
- My near death experience
- My natural and ongoing flow of creativity
I have been very much the outsider for the majority of my life, and not always by choice. I have some painful memories associated with people's responses to my difference that date back to my earliest memories.
I was told to conform by friends and family. I was told that no one liked a girl who wasn't smiling. I was told that I had to wear makeup or people would think that I didn't like boys. I was told that my behaviour intimidated men. I was told that I was lucky I was smart, because I was not a raving beauty. I was told that my creative pursuits made for nice hobbies. I was told that I was courting the devil. I was told that I was an idealist. I was told that I was crazy.
It is hard to take a look at difference for me, because it was impressed upon me that what made me different also made me less likable, that the things that made me stand apart were imperfections that required correction. I know now that this isn't true, but it is taking a while to unpack my emotions around the concept of difference. Old attachments die hard.
I really have come to love my difference, though. For the most part, I embrace them now and share them with whomever will have me, but I obviously still bear the yoke of my history, and sometimes it feels as though I am walking backwards into the future.
Still, though, I am slowly learning to let go of the past so that I can be fully here in a present in which my difference is not only accepted but is also an active and valued part of my skill set. My difference is a large part of what has taught me generosity, thoughtfulness, love, and kindness, and it has fed my creativity, demanded ingenuity, and instilled strength in me where I thought I had none.
It is our differences, the exceptions to the rule in each of us, the parts of ourselves that we might tend to overlook or even dismiss, that often lie at the root of our best abilities.