I read The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren a couple of years ago. I am writing about it here because, while the whole book was excellent, one chapter had, and still has, a profound effect on me, shaping my thinking and actions.
Chapter 2 is called “You Are Not An Accident”. At the end of the chapter, the reader is given this question to consider the following question: “I know that God uniquely created me. What areas of my personality, background, and physical appearance am I struggling to accept?” Well, I no problem whatsoever with that question!! This is what I wrote:
1. Height – When I walk into a room, 9 times out of 10, I am the tallest person in the room. It makes me stand out. Awkward!
2. Personality type – I am very outgoing (extrovert). I like to have fun and can get easily distracted (“dolphin” trait). I also like money and expensive things (like diamonds and furs), and am very decisive (“shark” trait). According to the experts, my personality traits are in the minority of the WORLD’s population.
3. Name – No one in school had the same name, ever. People misspelled it and/or mispronounced it. Talk about identity crisis!
4. Appearance – I am tall, light-skinned with long wavy hair. (I just keep it cut short – easier to manage). I take after my father, but I grew up around my mother’s family . . . who are all short and brown skinned. When I was 11, I was taller than my mother. When she would introduce me as her daughter to people who didn’t know, they would look puzzled. Can we say self-esteem issues?
5. Learning – When I was in school, I was the A-B student . . . without trying. School was easy for me which didn’t endear me to my classmates who were C-D students with study. I was Smarty Pants and Teacher’s Pet.
Then I sat back and really considered these the 5 areas I had written about . . . and I started to laugh! Yeah, laugh. I spent so much of my life trying to blend into the crowd so I wouldn’t be noticed, I wouldn’t feel awkward. But these 5 areas of me that I was struggling with all make me stand-out and be noticed!! The joke was on me. My purpose required me to stand-out in the crowd and be noticed, to reach out to people, to be open, to be positive, to lead people.
I still struggle, but not nearly as much, with my height. In fact, I wear heels. I use my height to exude confidence (especially when I’m not) when I interact with people I am just meeting. Experts say people who aren’t as tall as me (I didn’t say short!) are usually intimidated by height. And, other people use my height in stores to get items off the top shelf for them! I don’t struggle with my personality anymore; I’ve learned to accept it. However, I know when I meet a person for the first time, 9 times out 10, his/her personality type is the opposite of mine and I can’t explode all over them! My name has become a non-issue. To help people say my name correctly, I reference an item you can purchase in the store. We laugh. They pronounce my name right and they remember. Sometimes, people I’ve met years ago come up to me and call me by name. I don’t remember theirs though! (Awkward! Is this another area I need to examine?) I can’t do anything about my appearance or my ability to learn things (some things anyway) quickly. So……
Everyday, I am learning to embrace me and my uniqueness – to accept that I am not supposed to blend into the crowd. And to laugh at the joke on me!
Question for Comment: Do you have a “quirk” that you now see in a different light and can use to your advantage?
(originally posted June 14, 2010)