She was delightful, my firecracker daughter with daring spirit. As I watched her ready herself to leave for school with purposeful un-matched socks and shoes, and the same outfit she’d worn the day before, I smiled and said, “Making a statement”? Her response didn’t surprise me in the least, “Nope, I decided the first day of school was the perfect day to be me.”
She was never popular, she struggled to find her way, and I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that she was often hurt by the teasing of kids and the knowing that she didn’t fit in. But, I admire beyond words that even though those things brought her to tears at times, she never fell out of love with her individuality and never tried to be someone else.
Few would argue that it’s a good thing to surround yourself with healthy choices and people, because it’s true that our surroundings start to define us. Likewise, there are social norms that we need to subscribe to in order to live harmoniously in our culture and communities.
We can learn and be inspired by others, but at the beginning and end of the day, we are once again with ourselves, the arbiter of our lives. No matter how much we admire or respect someone else, the moment we try to copy them or fit into a mold that belongs to them, we lose our own identity and sense of self.
We all fit in, and we don’t. We all stand out, and then we don’t. Our position either way is dependent not on our identity, but on how the unique gift of who we are fits into our current environment. And the beauty is, we don’t have to fit in or stand out in order to belong. When you stand true to who you are, the world will come to recognize your gift and your purpose will start to unfold.
My firecracker daughter, you ask? She is now 26, a nurse, a member of the Navy, and a woman who knows and loves herself as much today as she did in her youth - probably even more. Does she still wear unmatched shoes and socks? I don't think so, but I've no doubt she would if the whim hit her!