WHY IT'S OKAY TO BE DIFFERENT AND FEEL LIKE THE ODD ONE OUT
A Call Out to all Fellow Wonderfully Weird entrepreneurs: Stop Playing Small and Embrace your Differentness. Instead leverage it to make make people fall in love with you.
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. Wonderful 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 an ice-cold state of: “Fuck, they think I’m weird.”
Being Different Can Be Challenging
I was in the communal kitchen, sitting at a huge table. People were dancing, and someone had passed out. Remember? Artists, actors, writers. Edgy People.
But I felt outed as being Weird. That camera was a huge trigger. Because deep inside, I desperately wanted to be ‘Like the Others.’
I started wanting to be ‘Like the others' when I was very young.
I was a dark-haired, brown-skinned girl growing up in a small village where all the girls were very blond.
“Are your parents locking you up in the coal shed?” was a frequently asked question. A question not asked by strangers, but by the parents of my school friends. I had no idea why they asked until my parents explained that this was about the color of my skin.
I looked different and I felt different.
I hid 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 and the feeling of deep self-loathing.
But I was a New Wave girl who didn’t give a flying fuck. Why did it feel everything?
I was so overwhelmed by the energy of 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. And love was for suckers.
I studied Architectural Design at Art School — where teachers and students wore stern turtle necks and ripped jeans.
But everyone thought I was a student from the Fashion Department. One of my teachers even asked why I was trying so hard to always look different.
I traveled the world by myself. Long before email and smartphones. Sometimes I was alone for days and didn't speak to anyone. I felt very badass.
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 but had no idea how to go from standing out to fitting in.
Growing up I took all the tests and quizzes 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.
* You study Law and become a Lawyer.
* You marry at 30, become a parent at 32 and have a splendid career, gain influence, buy an extra summer house.
Not — as I did —: Study Art and Indonesian Language and Culture AND History of the Middle East AND Communication Science AND Transformational Coaching AND Philosophy AND Art History.
Not — as I did —: Work in marketing, branding, communication, copywriting, art, design, consultancy, television, new media, AND as a transformational coach. Travel the world, never have a job that lasts longer than 2 years — because you’re incredibly bored with it and you have NO idea how people can stand working anywhere longer than 2 years —.
Not — as I did —: Never have a lasting relationship until 41, become a mother at 42, and start a completely 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, the emotions, and triggers. I used all the test results and — very non-scientifically — tossed all the traits into a huge blender.
Highly Sensitive Person. Catalyst. Very Introvert. Outspoken. Rebel, 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 worked like maniacs to realize their dream, who had bouts of unhappiness and were unable to bring forth change.
Until they accepted themselves fully. Until they - even if for 5 minutes a day - loved themselves, their differentness, weirdness, and Odd One Out Feelings included.
So, I wrote a book “The Wonderfully Weird Woman’s Manual”.
And I created a test. [You can find the new version of the quiz here] and realized there are thousands of women — and a good deal of men — who also felt the Power of the Perpetual Odd One Out. They always felt Weird. And Different. 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? Why is your differentness your True Gold?
Can I use myself as an example again?
Because trying to be like The Others has kept me small, out of alignment with my true powers and my beautiful gold.
It will also keep you small. Your beauty, your purpose, and your True Voice are fully connected to your Differentness.
I wholeheartedly believe that when we could all show up as ourselves — every aspect of who we really are and allows others to be who they really are — we can heal humanity.
But it requires us to lay down our layers and masks, our need to fit in, and our judgemental minds (towards ourselves and others).
When we can just simply be and become more of who we already are, we — the Weird Folk — are natural healers, leaders, or changemakers.
All we've got to do is to show up.
Maybe it’s a bit daft that it took me so long to figure this out, but sometimes these things need time. We have a saying in the Netherlands — coined by our 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 behavior — towards seeing the complete picture.
This is an ongoing process where we peel off the layers of fitting in until we come to the core of who we truly are.
If we want to connect to our power, we all got to travel home to ourselves to find our beautiful Inner Gold. I urge you — here speaks years of trying to be like the others — to stop seeing yourself as just Plain Weird.
Instead, start looking into the mirror and smile at your Royal Wonderful Differentness You get the hang of it eventually. This is self-love in action.
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 that your Differentness is your gift.
It’s waiting for you to be fully embraced, accepted, and loved. And as soon as you see the tiniest glimpses of your Inner Gold, the shift will happen.
Your clients will see it. Your followers will feel it. And if you want to learn how to transform followers into clients, I'm here for you.
START WITH TAKING THE QUIZ
Being Different is Okay being the odd one out
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. Different is okay