If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise. – Johann von Goethe
True story: When I was on the verge of high school, I was in a department store shopping with my mom and my one of my best friends, Tamra. We were shopping for back to school clothes and Tamra and I each had a certain amount of money to spend. I will just go ahead and admit it – I was up to my elbows in the “hot new” and “popular” clothes. Calvin Klein jeans, crazy colored tops, and.. of course… the coolest of the cool shoes.
At some point, I was mid-rant about the price of a pair of jeans when I realized I’d misplaced my buddy. While my mom scampered off to look at something else (and to probably escape my “How can I get everything I simply must have if the price tags are so unfair?? Life isn’t faaaaiiirrr….” meltdown), I went off in search of Tamra. I found her in a section of clothes I didn’t even know existed – inexpensive ones.
She said some sort of nonsense about being able to actually get MORE clothes if she bought CHEAPER clothes.
I’m sure I wondered how she and I were even friends at that point. I mean, what was with this girl?
Trying to save her from herself, I leaned in and whispered something like, “But no one’s wearing these clothes.”
My buddy supreme lit up and said, “That’s why I love them – I’ll be the only one!”
I’d LOVE to be able to say that the early teen version of me had a moment of clarity and tossed down my Calvin Klein’s and pulled out some clothes from Tamra’s goldmine but, alas, I did not. Enlightenment was a word I could probably barely spell, let alone claim ownership of.
We were going to be entering high school for the first time, I was not going to do it in clothes that weren’t all the rage! I would not walk through those doors without the most expensive jeans in the store on my behind!
After about two hours (feeling sorry for my mom yet?), we left the store. Tamra had more bags than me… more clothes than me.. and even had money left.
I thought possibly she was an alien. I walked out with my bag… yes, BAG.. felling like I had just won the shopping game.
Funny thing, though, my mom went on and on about Tamra’s approach. Praised her as we walked to the car… praised her as we ate the lunch she treated us to… at one point, it hit me that all this “praise” was as much for my benefit as it was her’s. She kept looking at me as she said words like smart and thrifty.. and something about stretching money. I’m pretty sure the whole lunch thing was so I could hear about “making the most of your money” and “making it last.” How “clothes were clothes” blah blah blah.
Great. So now I had two aliens.
Oddly enough, over the years I came to realize that… of course… I was the one who “didn’t get it.” I was too preoccupied with wearing what the other kids were wearing to realize that the greatest thing in life is to make your own way, be yourself, and not worry about who anyone else thinks you should be.
Or what they think you should wear.
The whole enlightenment thing didn’t hit me until I was in my Senior year of High School.
My poor mom.
It finally became clear to me that the coolest thing in the world was to stand out from everyone else… not blend in.
Whether it’s what you wear, how you do your hair, how you walk, how you talk, or any dang thing that makes you you… don’t let anyone try to re-make you or re-do you. I don’t care whether they think their intentions are great or not. They don’t have the right. It’s YOUR life.
They have their own.
Truth is, if anyone tries to make you into something or someone you’re not, they’re actually the one with the problem, not you. If they were completely comfortable in their own skin and at peace with life, they’d have better things to do than worry about your hair. Or clothes. Or anything.
Personally, I cannot imagine taking issue with something personal about another individual. If they’re mistreating someone or putting someone else at risk… sure, I’d have to say something. But if they want to braid garlic cloves into their hair and dress in sackcloth, I’m not going to let it rock my boat. I won’t sit downwind from them, but I’ll let them stink if they want to.
It’s their right.
There’s an old Polish proverb my husband loves, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” Pretty much I think you could also say it this way: “That’s none of my dang business, so I’m going to just do me!”
Be you…. let them be them.
Life’s better that way.