I remember back at school, standing in the playground talking about dreams (the adventures you have whilst you’re asleep, not your hopes for the future) and my friends looking at me as if, well, I was off my trolley. You see in my house growing up, it was completely normal to talk about dreams. It was healthy and it was encouraged. I came to realise, though, that although this was normal amongst my family, it certainly wasn’t normal as far as the general public were concerned. It’s probably why, even today (and all those years later), I’m still one of only a few people in the UK who publicly talk about them. I have actually been compared to a “devil worshipper” for helping people understand their poor sleep and nightmares, such is the size of fear people have even mentioning them. But not being normal didn’t stop me. Why?
It probably helped coming from a family which is the opposite end of normal. We often joke about the time my Mum’s DNA test came back ‘negative’ (meaning technically, she doesn’t have any) and the time when I went to see a neurologist who told me (and I quote) “science isn’t ready for you yet”.
I’ve never really felt like I fitted in. I didn’t have a sense of belonging at school and it’s only really in my 40’s that I’m starting to figure out what it is I want to do when I grow up. I know what makes me sparkle; time with my loved ones, teaching and I love writing (although, like most writers, I constantly battle the ‘you’re not good enough’ voice in my head). But if anything, trying to fit in always made me feel under pressure, as if I should be striving to do things that, actually, I had no interest in doing. One of the best pieces of writing I’ve seen on this is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. In her book she talks about talking down to that voice and realising it’s okay to feel a sense of entitlement about what it is you really want to do:
I am a constituent of this universe. I have invisible spirit benefactors who believe in me, and who labour alongside me. The fact that I am here at all is evidence that I have the right to be here. I have a right to my own voice and a right to my own vision. I have a right to collaborate with creativity, because I myself am a product and a consequence of Creation”.
Fitting in is okay if it helps you achieve your goal, as long as you’re not compromising your values or being unkind to others. In Rising Strong, Brené Brown talks about the times she stood as close as she could to the academics who insisted that the only viable ‘proof’ of anything, was based on analysing (quantative) data whilst she firmly believed, after a decade of research, that people’s (qualitative) experiences spoke volumes. Literally.
In The Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo talks about the dichotomy of trying to be unique whilst recognising that on some universal level we are all the same:
Not surprisingly, like most people, in the first half of my life, I worked very hard to understand and strengthen my uniqueness…. But in the second half of my life, I have been humbly brought to centre…and I now I marvel at the mysterious oneness of our spirit.”
In order to understand what helps you sparkle, you will sometimes need the help of others even if it is just to verify that you do have the right to chase your dreams. And whether you fit in or fit out is okay as long as it doesn’t take you away from your good intentions, positive goal or the integrity of what matters to you. After all, in the words of Dr Seuss, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
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© Delphi Ellis All rights reserved 2016 / Helping You Sparkle™