When was the last time you felt as though you didn’t fit in? As though you were on the outside looking in at everyone else? Maybe it was when you were younger. It might have been as recently as last week. Or even today. Perhaps you’ve felt that way your whole life.
A couple of years ago, I was with my husband in Cyprus. I’d been teaching yoga at a retreat and he’d come along to join me for a few days. One of my yoga students played piano at a hotel in a neighbouring village and she had invited us to come and listen to her play one evening.
We went along after dinner and when we arrived we were told that there was no room at the upscale restaurant at which she played to patrons. Given the tone in which this information was relayed to us, it was quite apparent that not being able to gain entry had less to do with ‘no room’ and much more to do with how we were dressed (flip flops and jeans).
When we were turned away I had a moment of embarrassment, of feeling like we were being looked down upon. That was quickly replaced by annoyance – we had come to hear our friend play and now we wouldn’t be able to. We’d also paid for a taxi and it was my one night off from teaching.
Not wanting to get straight back into another taxi, we sat just outside the ‘no room’ restaurant in the vast lobby area which was a decadent delight of marble with crystal chandeliers. We were acutely aware of the not so subtle stares from the maitre’d who, it seemed, wanted to ensure we didn’t make a second attempt to gain entry.
We sat and looked at each other, exchanging an ‘OK, what now?’ look. Amused and frustrated in equal measure.
Then we heard the piano. Through the open doors, the wonderful notes of Trois Gymnopédies made their way over to us and instead of being mad that we weren’t inside, we got up and slow danced together. Right there. In the lobby. In our jeans and flip flops.
We still got to enjoy the music and it sounded even sweeter because we weren’t in a stuffy, formal environment where we weren’t welcome. We found our own scene. We did it our way. We refused to hide.
Life will always throw us curveballs. Always. But we can still find our own joy. We can still hear the music.
If our happiness is only ever dependent on the acceptance and approval of others then we are giving away far too much of our power. It’s human nature to want to be liked, to want to be included, but it’s damaging for our self esteem if it’s something we have to fight for.
Consider for a moment what the foundations of your self worth are built on. If you’re told that you don’t fit in with a certain set of people, how does that leave you feeling? Do you immediately feel that you are lacking somehow? That you’re not good enough?
How much of your life is spent stressing about what ‘they’ think?
Imagine the hours that you have available to you each day. Each week. Each year.
Now imagine handing those hours over to all the people whose opinions you spend time worrying about.
Seriously, imagine standing there while all those people line up in front of you with their hands open as you give them your hours.
Like that picture?
Neither do I.
We can waste our time caring about what others think of us OR we can get ourselves a great big slice of empowerment and dance to our own music. We can be subdued and spiritless OR we can be original and unique and stand out.
I wrote this poem a while back and I live by each line.
I Will Not Hide
I will not hide who I am
Who I was born to be
Just because it blots your landscape
I will not mute my colours
Nor dim my light
Just because your eyes are sensitive
I will not lose my flavour
Nor relinquish my spice
Just because your palate requires a different taste
I will not dilute my strength
Nor water down my spirit
Just because you have no desire for this drink
I will not walk with less confidence
Nor diminish my flair
Just because you prefer me to be meek
I will not stop my torrent
Or calm my waves
Just because you want shelter from this storm
I will not stay in silence
Nor censor my speech
Just because you have no appetite for my words
I will not lessen my love
Nor subdue my passion
Just because you fear my fire
I will not hide
Don’t ever be reduced by anybody. Don’t ever let anybody diminish you.
Don’t ever stop dancing to your own music.