(I then realized I was going down this road not because it made be happy, but because I thought it would please certain other people. I finished my courses, but I never applied to medical school. Still, I'm grateful for the experience and would not trade it for anything in the world. Another story for another time!)
In one of my Physics classes, I happened to mention a hilarious Chemistry-related pun I'd come up with. Instead of laughing, one of my classmates scoffed and said he was surprised I'd admit to something like that in public. As if I'd said something scandalous and obscene!
Well. After 25 years of feeling embarrassed when I was called out for being a dork, I did something different. Now, on the outside, I remained calm. I rolled my eyes and ignored that dude. Inside, though? I got angry.
What a world! I thought. Where I was supposed to be ashamed of making puns. Of liking science. Of being me! This started me on a long -- and ongoing -- road to dumping the shame and claiming my quirks. In short, taking the most interesting things about me and owning them.
This is what I want for each and every one of you! That you realize that many of the things you believe are wrong about you are the rightest things ever because they're what make you awesome. That you own them and never, ever reject them.
Not only is this an important general life lesson, but it's one you can carry over into your creative work. Being an artist means doing what you do with a certain amount of skill, but also doing things in new and different ways. If your work is infused with your quirks, your awesomeness, it can't help but be original.
Also, in accepting the things that make you tick, you'll accept the things that make your work yours. No more I shouldn't write about this or I shouldn't paint like this or maybe I should concentrate on making my work more like so-and-so's. Trust me, it will be a freeing experience!
So here's my mantra: whatever makes you stand out? Own it.
- If you're sensitive and cry during movies, own it!
- If you have more interests than you know what to do with at times, and you're always picking up new things, own it!
Instead of "settling down" and choosing one thing to do with you life, try combining your interests. Writing with art, music with painting. Or work your interests in rotations. Devote one day, week, month, to one interest, and when you've tackled your big project or learned what you need to, switch to another. Keep feeding your curious, amazing brain! The rewards will be numerous.
- If you write in a genre that isn't considered "serious literature," if you work with artistic materials that aren't considered "high end," if you'd rather cartoon than sketch fruit in bowls, own it!
(Some of my favorite materials to work with. They make their way into my projects again and again! I have no intention of changing this.)
Own being weird. Own your unruly curly hair and learn to encourage the curl. Own your love for sequins and stuffed animals and novelty socks and Sweet Valley Twins books. When you do, you'll be freer in your work and in your life, and you'll learn to feel compassion for anyone who thinks you should go back into hiding.
Because here's a great big secret! The people who insult you the most are definitely hiding some huge secrets of their own. They may just need some patience and encouragement to own their inner awesome.
(From my collection of Halloween socks. I wear them year round and buy more every year.)
So how about you? Which quirks are you willing to own? Which quirks are you still a little embarrassed about?
Thanks for stopping by, thanks for sharing, and have a sequintastic day!