"Before you talk to me, I should warn you: I am kind of strange."
This quote sits in a frame on my desk with a drawing of a stickman riding a dinosaur. I absolutely love it.
It was given to me by a 15 year old client (who stole it from the internet - Credit goes to Randall Munroe of xkcd.com) as a thank you after I sat with him while he expressed that he hated that people call him strange and weird.
He talked about how being different from others his age has caused him to really hate who he is. You see, peer acceptance and peer pressure is real and true. Most of you can remember a time in your teens where you felt less than the crowd. It is an ugly feeling. As much as I wanted this young man to know that being unique and doing your own thing was a good thing and that if he embraced he would find true happiness in the long run. I knew that was not what he needed to hear at the time. So instead, we decided to use a skill called distraction and we turned on the karaoke machine.
We took turns belting out songs that had meaning for us. At one point, I had chosen the song "Me and Bobby McGee." He laughed as I sang my off key heart out. He asked me how I knew that song and I told him that my own mother would play that song often when she was cleaning. He laughed at me. He rolled his eyes at me. He looked directly at me and said, "Oh my God, you are so strange. You like a song that reminds you of your mother cleaning? You are weird. He left our interaction smiling and laughing and told me he was feeling better.
Fast forward a few days, and we were in a group of people discussing 'the most disgusting things we love to eat' and I said I liked to dip lays chips in mustard. Along with all the other groaning and "gross" comments, this young man, again stated, "Miss Becka, you really are weird."
At the end of his time working with me as I helped him prepare to return to his family and friends, he told me that he was glad he met me, because there was no one more strange or more weird than I was and he really liked me.
I told him I didn't know if I should be insulted or honored. But since he was smiling at me I was going to choose to be honored.
He rolled his eyes at me and said, "Yeah okay, you got me. I guess being strange is okay. I mean just look at you, you are strange and yet you are happy. I'm going to just be me, and if others think it's strange, well I can take that as a compliment - even when it's not given as one.
I have since then, kept in touch with this client who is now married, about to have his first child, and will complete his Bachelor's Degree in Music Therapy. He really is a happy man and has found his place in the world.
I am still strange and weird. Or as I like to call it these days, unique and authentic.
What about you? What makes you strange and weird - unique and authentic? What makes you stand out in a crowd? Are you living your best life? Or are you hiding in the shadows?