The Cost of Being You

Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it’s from Neptune.
-Noam Chomsky

Our oldest daughter has always had her own sense of style and right before school started this year, she got her hair cut really, really short. It looks amazing…like Audrey Hepburn amazing.  She loved her new haircut until she started getting some wise cracks from boys at school…and then she decided that she would be growing it out again.

We have talked it about it since then a couple of times, and I do not know what her plans are at this time…I hope she holds on to her haircut for a while…I know that she likes it, and it really does look amazing.

In addition to making me want to karate chop some elementary school boy; this has reminded me how early the authenticity vs. conformity battle shows up.

Being true to who you are is never the path of least resistance.  We talk a good game about authenticity, being true to who we are, marching to the beat of our drummer, but it’s mostly talk…we do a whole bunch of stuff to fit in.  It is easy to rally around originality and uniqueness after it has paid off.  We love to talk about the vision and originality of Lady Gaga and Steve Jobs, while we squash the stuff trying to take root right in front of us.

“You look funny.”

“That will never work.”

The first thing we can do to better advocate diversity, inclusion, and a better world for more of us is to make sure that we are making the contribution that only we can make.  We must be willing and able to be different…because we are. It is also maybe the hardest thing for us to do…because we tend to punish difference until it has proven out.

Have you stood out from the crowd recently?  Have you been the oddball?  Have you been unlike everyone else?  This is the cost of being you, and if you have not paid it recently…there may be an important message there for you.

The way to know that you are actually flying your freak flag is that it will have some bullet holes in it.

Be good to each other.

  1. Charlie Judy

    i gave up on little league baseball because two older boys in 4th grade made fun of the team that i had been assigned to during spring registration – they weren’t even making fun of my playing abilities…just the team. i don’t remember how much my mother and father tried to negotiate with me on this…i’m guessing i wouldn’t budge. those two guys grew up to be creeps and i grew up missing my opportunity as a baseball great (i’m convinced the raw materials were there). and look at me…i’m an HR exec. just because my impressionable mind hadn’t learned to take it’s own stand in 3rd grade.

    thanks for this post – it resonates with me in many ways.

  2. Tiffany crawford

    My daughter did the same thing in 6th grade…she got lots of nasty comments for basically, not conforming with the ways of the world. I pushed her through it, encouraged her to maintain her individuality.

    Now, as a freshman, she’s a trendsetter, first one to wear Tom’s at herr school—completely ridiculed for her “slippers” and now everyone is wearing them. So many times I wanted to rescue her, but instead I just pushed her to be the amazing person God created her to be. I tell her it’s not about hair or shoes, it’s about her attitude an confidence so that other’s will want the light she has..the light that only comes from Jesus!

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  4. Andrew S. Dungan

    I really resonate with this post, but this post also makes me think of something else: know when to speak and when to remain silent. There is a wisdom that we each need to develop. Yes, we need to fly our freak flags and stay true to who we are, but on the other hand, let’s not carry our agendas on our sleeves all the time. Let’s not proselytize and evangelize our “brand.” Agenda evangelizing is so wearisome.

    Instead, the greatest people to be around are those that know exactly when to speak. These are the people that may either gently or loudly dissent, but they know how to and when to. Either way is fine for them because they have perfected the way in which they present themselves and their mode of being. For them there is no “agenda” for they just “are.” They are wrapped in their mode of being. These are the individuals that I like to come in contact with and dialogue with.

    So Joe, I hope that your daughter is able to find her true self. It may not be this time. She may give in. Nevertheless, one of these days she may recognize that there is a warrior within and come to recognize that she really doesn’t care what too many others care about in regards to the really trivial things of life.

  5. Rebecca S-W

    My 6 yr. son said to me this morning that he doesn’t want to anyone to know that his favorite color is pink because he doesn’t want to be made fun of. He has loved that color since he could tell us what his favorite color is. It’s a color – but it also sets him apart from other boys who are afraid to be authentic. It starts so young and it also marginalizes girls because “heaven forbid” a boy would want anything that a girl could want! I never want to change my son. What he may need to change his outlook on others.

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