I remember it like it happened yesterday. New Years Eve, Amsterdam. I was celebrating the end of 1998 in a large industrial building filled with artists, designers, writers, actors. Artsy Folks.
I was having a great time. Through a haze of cheap wine and screaming laughter I was playing Sausage Dracula with one of the guests. We were sticking pieces of sausage in the corner of our mouths and pretending to be truly scary.
I was having such a wonderful carefree time.
Suddenly in the corner of my eye I saw one of the artists nudging a photographer. Mind you this is pre-selfie time. He was pointing in our direction urging him to make photo’s of the two uber funny Sausage Dracula’s.
That nudge and the camera pointed in our direction was all it took to push me out of my drunken state of joy and into a stone cold state of: “Fuck, they think I’m weird.”
I was in the communal kitchen, sitting at a huge table. People were dancing, someone had passed out. Remember? Artists, actors, writers. Artsy Folks.
But I felt outed as being Weird. And I desperately wanted to be ‘Like the Others.’
I started wanting to be ‘Like the others’ when I was very young. A dark haired, brown skinned girl growing up in a small village where all the girls were blond. “Are your parents locking you up in the coal shed?” parents of my school friends asked me. I had no idea what that meant until my parents explained that this was about the color of my skin.
I looked different and I felt different. I hide out in my room at my birthday party, reading my new books.
But I loved parties.
I loved being on stage at school plays, but only remember a father in the audience bending over in a fit of laughter.
But I was a New Wave girl who didn’t give a flying fuck.
I was so overwhelmed by the Cathedral of Chartres that I couldn’t speak anymore. Feeling the presence of God like a wave of love.
But I was a self-declared atheist.
I studied Architectural Design at Art School — where everyone wore stern turtle necks and jeans.
But everyone thought I was a Fashion student.
I traveled the world by myself. Not speaking to people for days, feeling bad-ass.
But I deeply longed for human contact.
I studied Art History and learned to look at art from a purely scientific point of view.
But when I watched a portrait painted by Malevich I couldn’t stop crying.
I always felt the odd one out. Always different. I never fitted in. And I deeply hated it.
Growing up I took all the tests and quizes in the world. They fitted like a glove. All of them.
One week I felt all Business-like “Let’s make Money” the next week I knew my purpose was to sit in a cave and meditate on the meaning of life.
And still I wanted to be Like the Others. Normal. Clear. Like the people who follow a singular clear path.
Not — like I did — something in the line of: Study Art and Indonesian Language and Culture and the History of the Middle East and Communication Science and Transformational Coaching and Philosophy.
Not — like I did — work in branding, communication, copywriting, art, design, consultancy, television and as a transformational coach. Travel the world, never have a job that lasts longer than 2 year — because you’re incredibly bored with it and you have NO idea how people can stand working anywhere longer than 2 year — .
Not — like I did — never have a lasting relationship until 41, become a mother at 42 and start a complete new business at 51.
And still… I wanted to be Like the Others. Because Being Like the Others feels Safe and Secure.
Until I looked into all those conflicting feelings, into the traits. I used all the tests results and — very non-scientifically — tossed all the traits into a huge blender.
Highly Sensitive Person. Catalyst. Very Introvert. Outspoken. Shy. Ambitious. Multi-passionate. Smart. Analyst. Alchemist …
I also researched the traits of the women I had worked with and found — hidden beneath questions about careers and the desire to feel happy again — amazing commonalities that explained why the women I coached, women who all worked like maniacs to realize their dream, were initially deeply unhappy and unable to bring forth change … until they accepted themselves fully. Weirdness and Odd One Out Feelings included.
I wrote a book: “The Wonderfully Weird Woman’s Manual”. I created a test. And realized there are thousands of women — and a good deal of men — who also felt the Perpetual Odd One Out.
They always felt Weird. They always tried to be More Like the Others.
Why is it important to understand your weirdness? Why is Feeling the Odd One Out Okay?
Because Trying to be Like The Others kept me small and it will keep you small. Your beauty, your purpose, your True Voice is fully connected to your ‘Being Different’.
I wholeheartedly believe that showing up as yourself — every aspect of you — will heal humanity.
When we lay down our layers and masks, our angry words, our need to fit in.
Maybe it’s a bit daft that it took me so long to figure it out, but sometimes these things need time. We have a saying in the Netherlands — coined by our deceased beloved soccer player and national hero Johan Cruyff “Je gaat het pas zien als je het doorhebt.” It roughly translates into: “You only see it when you get it”.
We all travel — via our capacity to feel and our glimpses into our behaviour — towards seeing the complete picture. This is an ongoing process. We need this inner travel in order to get “IT”. To get us.
We all need to understand what the hell is going on inside our Wonderfully Weird Self.
I urge you — here speaks years of trying be like the others — to stop seeing yourself as just Plain Weird. Instead start looking into the mirror and smile at your Royal Wonderful Weirdness. You get the hang of it eventually.
That’s a promise.
Whenever you feel unseen, have no words at a busy network event and think you just need to be More Like the Others. Stop. Breathe.
Remember — this is just between you, me and all The Wonderfully Weird people out there— that you might be a weirdo on purpose because you have a great gift and it’s waiting for you to to fully embrace and love it.
THINK YOU MIGHT BE WONDERFULLY WEIRD TOO? TAKE THE QUIZ
Originally published at medium.com