“There is something about me. . .I had a feeling that
I was some sort of alien that didn’t quite fit.”
~ Tim Burton, filmmaker
I’m not sure if it came from appreciating full-tilt the un-selfconscious mind of Neil Gaiman thru his essays and blog posts, wanting one of his brilliant blogs to be the first page of my forthcoming book. Or if it’s my sister-in-law saying ‘all those people are dead” when I said I was the black sheep of the family. Or perhaps a few surprise responses to last week’s blog where I shared my experience getting carried into an altered state, my molecules shifted. Something I don’t typically share with peeps I don’t know. Or if it’s a whip-smart friend who travels in big circles, does big work in the world, sharing she’s an empath, too. But I imagine the article on Tim Burton in Sunday’s paper (which I so, so rarely read!) was the connection that got me thinking.
He was an isolated and lonely outsider growing up. In high school deemed weird. Not exactly my experience, but I moved every few years growing up. Was always reminded for a time I was an outsider. And I got the message early on I was different, like at 18 mos. old early. But I was never directly labeled or pigeon-holed. Because I never looked really weird on the outside.
And I went the opposite direction of Tim’s. I did not find my way to a brilliant showing in the world arena with my weirdness. I let comments hurt – Heloise is different, out there, too much, weird. Even the clearly dismissive comments about my tousled hair, my perspectives, my enthusiasm. Worse of all, I turned the messages inward.
— Too much for some people – too emotive, too curious, too smart. Tamp it down.
— Too particular. Muzzle your desires.
— See the slightest spatial differences – in a framed picture, a graphic, the way a shoe’s made Apologize before you mention it.
— Highly intuitive. Doesn’t matter it’s not the same as non-reasoned emotional. Hide it. Laugh it off.
— Feel things and messages in my body, hear them in my head. Hyper aware of non-verbals. Hide it.
— Cry easily. Whenever touched. Doesn’t matter not the same as being over emotional. Stop those tears.
— Smart. Soften it.
— See connections and linkages in everything. See a thousand shades of gray. Doesn’t matter it makes you pause before answering yes-no, black- white questions. Or that it’s not the same as undecided. Give them the answer. Live with it.
— Dirty kitchen counters make you nuts. Doesn’t matter your desk doesn’t look OCD. Control it.
— Naturally chatty. Muzzle it.
— Shy. Doesn’t matter it’s not the same as socially inept, like a long-ago husband said. Or that you’re not aloof, like a long-ago professor said. Smile. Remember, always smile.
— And this one. . .I was one of the girls in the mirrors shown in Hillary Clinton’s campaign ad. I was chubby, and dark skinned from my Armenian heritage. Looked very ethnic in junior high. Being neither hourglass or rail thin like Twiggy, I never had the idealized body. Was always a tad disheveled. Try to look right.
In other words, tho I’m strong, intelligent, creative, get things done, do good works, love my friends, family, and the world, over the years I’ve made myself smaller. Tamped down my enthusiasm. Apologized for my breath. Saw bad relationships up to me alone to fix. I didn’t allow myself to be who I essentially am. I let myself feel less-than as I shrugged off blank stares to my insights or wit. Bought thousands of dollars in clothing that was not Me. Over-explained myself. Justified why I see things the way I do. Hid my intelligence. Struggled with body image. Even when I was 30 lbs. lighter than my current size-8, I felt fat. Even when my socks coordinate with my outfit and I’m in a tailored suit, I feel sloppy. I still use self-talk to get past feeling frumpy or not right. And I’m one of the lucky ones. I can stop eating sweets and carbs for a few weeks, lose weight. My muscles respond quickly to the slightest exercise.
It took years to realize as many people as there are who don’t see me, there are others who do. That as much as I consider the negative voices, for they may illuminate something to work on, I need to hold the positive voices, too. Because they help me reframe my peculiarities, see past my negative self-talk. See how they may be gifts.
Being particular means I know what I want, and claim it. The way I put my slippers neatly under the sofa can be cute. My shyness made me more courageous. My spatial sensitivity helps people feel comfortable when they’re in my home. The connections I make help people gain new insights, see things they’ve not considered before. My empathy and intuition help me be a good listener, a good activist, a better writer and author, and a better person in the world. And it’s okay I need solitude, because it’s more than being selfish. It allows me to show up 100%.
Here’s the thing. I realize every person feels this way about aspects of him/herself. And I say there’s a reason. The messages from childhood never go away, always haunt with doubt. Even for the strong ones. AND perhaps if we thought about *different* people as simply having a brain that works differently. Or took the time, considered people beyond appearances. Or considered we don’t know what’s going on in another’s life now, or what happened to them in the past. We don’t know motivations. Perhaps if we paused before we judged. We all might have fuller lives. Expand our experience of the world. Expand inside ourselves. See our own selves differently. Experience more appreciation for ourselves and the world. Perhaps even discover a renewed sense of freedom. Even when we turn away from bad apples, see things as awful as first thought.
Pollyanna. Maybe. But it’s a good lens to view the world thru. And is not unconsidered or unaware.
Another small journey. Getting to Wise.
A Writer’s Life.
Tell me. . .what messages have you received that hurt? How did you move past.
I’ll tell you a secret. . .my astrology chart says I’m a late bloomer.
Image from “Strange Diary or How to Make a Collage” by Amy Tingle
I’m writing a book about the creative life for people living in the real world.
The Writer’s Block Myth
Get Past Stuck, Complete Your Projects, Have Lasting Creative Freedom.