Do you remember what it was like being a teenager? Boys and girls going through the cycle of adolescence find themselves with a paradox. Their bodies and minds are developing a sense of separation and independence from their parents. At the same time, middle school and high school are places where fitting in, not sticking out, is preferred by most. How can they establish an individual identity where social groups can mean popularity and acceptance? How can they be perceived as “normal?”
In fact, how can we as adults? If we are like others we have a sense of acceptance about ourselves. At the same time we want to be recognized for the unique person we are. A great deal of my work is helping others to find what is special about them, to find their “gift.” While in the spiritual sense we are one with everything around us, we are also an individualization of the creative mind behind all life. I’ve seen my friend, Natasha, grow up from a child into a beautiful woman. She marched to her own tune as a teenager without apology or any seeming need for approval. Today she’s grown into a beautiful and caring woman who is very clear on who she is.
We risk labels of being weird, crazy or eccentric if we step outside acceptable social rules, color outside the lines or dance to the beat of our own drum. “Why don’t you dress your age?” is a question asked of some seniors. I don’t even know what that means. Who are we to tell someone else how to express themselves? It’s been my experience that a person who asks that of another is doing so for one of two reasons. They might be concerned for a friend or relative being looked down on (though the person in question probably doesn’t care). Or, they may just be jealous that someone else has the chutzpah to live without allowing people to dictate how they should live their lives.
I saw a woman in the grocery store last year that was probably well on the other side of sixty. Her hair was flawless, the blouse sensual but not tacky and the simple black skirt that fit her like a glove was well above her knees. The ensemble was completed by a pair of fierce, black pumps with five-inch spike heels. She was elegant, proud and confident. I complimented her on the fact that she took such meticulous care in her appearance and congratulated her on being one of the few women I’d seen recently who could walk in stilettos without looking like a gazelle with splints on its legs. She blushed and was truly moved that anyone would take the time to compliment her. She was unassuming in conversation and the epitome of a gracious presence.
Is she our “normal” picture of a woman of that age? Probably more so in 2014 than when I was growing up in the ‘60’s, but I’m sure she turned a few heads in the store that included disapproving smirks. I loved her. She wasn’t out to prove she was 30. She wasn’t trying to recapture a sensuality usually reserved in society’s opinion for a woman twenty years younger. She was being who she was, without exception, explanation or apology. When we are confident in our own personalities we don’t do what we do to prove anything to anyone. We are being authentic and unique. In doing so, we reduce our stress level and provide the planet with a gift only we can give.
As one of my dearest friends, Dr. Arleen Bump, once told me, “I don’t defend, justify or explain my actions. I let the results speak for themselves.” How are the results in your own life? Are you seeking approval instead of being the magnificent, unique individual you are? I invite you to step back this week if you begin thinking of stopping yourself from doing something out of fear of reprisal or the disapproval of others. Normal is average. Do you want to be “average,” just “good enough?” I don’t. I want to be amazing, authentic and magnificent! Be yourself. Remember, God doesn’t make junk!
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,