When I was in my early teens, my dad bought me a t-shirt with the infamous Think Different manifesto on the back. Albert Einstein was printed on the front, infamous tongue pointed outward. The sleeves hit my elbows, the hem landed below my knees, and on the back, in tiny serif font, read this:
Here’s to the crazy ones.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.
While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
In many ways, my father hoped I would grow into the t-shirt, and the words would grow within me. It was 1997, and the world looked very different than it does today. We took selfies with disposable cameras and our eyebrows were much thinner, but feeling a bit different has always been part of my identity that I’ve subdued and kept hidden.
Now as an adult woman raising kids of her own, I think a lot about how I can make room for Jobs’ manifesto to live inside my kids by giving them room to question everything, tinker with ideas, and find solutions to problems all their own. Because it’s not always easy to be different in the real world. It’s not always easy to be different when you’re learning to love the light and dark parts of yourself.
Chances are you’ve been warned about living outside the lines of normal. Perhaps it is that familiar voice telling you to play it safe, or the ever-present oppression that exists within systematically racist institutions. From a young age, we’re told to hide the truest parts of ourselves when at school, at work, when looking for a spouse. We’re told to be less loud, truthful, or unfiltered. Confident but not cocky, beautiful but not boastful, vulnerable but tactful.
To be who you are in a world which tells you who to be is brave. Sometimes the boldest acts of bravery present themselves as a whisper. Sometimes they’re going against the grain, or acts of faith. Sometimes it means ignoring everyone. Whatever way you embrace what makes you different, be crazy enough to be who are you and live by your own rules.
This month we’re telling stories about when we broke the mold, went outside the lines, dared to find self-awareness, and learned to look inward for approval. To balance acceptance, confidence, and awareness means embracing our fullest self, and respecting who we are so much that we are able to be all the facets of who we are on our own accord, with our best intentions front and center.
Whatever calls to your heart, whatever begs you to live outside the box you’ve given yourself, May is the month to embrace it. So paint your walls pink, write an email without an emoji or extra exclamation points, spend money on something that brings you joy, and say “bye Felicia” to anyone who didn’t have any business telling you how brightly you should shine in the first place.
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BY Kate Arends - May 1, 2019
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.
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