Growing up I didn’t want to be different. I did everything I could to get people not to notice me. But I was born with a talent that made me stand apart not just from the other kids, but from the girls, too.
For as long as I can remember, I was playing a sport of some kind. From soccer, to tennis, to basketball, to softball. For a brief time, I ran the 800 in junior high. I even coached several of those same sports for my boys or a group of high school girls. Unlike many girls today, I never entered a single dance studio or took a tumbling class.
The most nonathletic thing I ever did was play the accordion (don’t laugh) for two years beginning when I was five years old. Oh, yeah, and the flute in 5th grade. That didn’t last long when I was practicing (what else but) my softball swing and part of the flute flew off and hit my dresser—just what you want to tell your parents about your rented musical instrument. I dabbled in the Girl Scouts for a year, but got tired of wearing green, and I never did have very many patches to put on my sash. In 7th grade, I was a “Rainbow Girl” but grew tired of the “properness” of this secret society.
I was (and to some degree still am) most comfortable doing what I do best.
Otherwise, I spent most of my time with a glove, a pair of cleats, or a ball of some kind. Most recesses were spent playing kickball or tether ball. For years, my stepmom would waste time by putting those pink foam curlers in my hair the night before school pictures and encouraging me to wear dresses to school. What she didn’t know is that I secretly took an extra set of clothes to school to change into—you just can’t play kickball wearing a blue corduroy jumper and black dress shoes.
What I didn’t realize in my attempt to hide among all of the other kids in school was that I actually stood out.
Because I was good. Because I was different, without even knowing it.
Regardless of how hard I tried to be invisible, I was unable to hide. People still saw me.
But this article isn’t about the clothes I wore in 5th grade or the number of teams I was on while a kid; it’s really about something bigger.
It’s about the legacy we create because we are different. It’s about the rules we think we need to follow to ensure that any potential we have within remains hidden. It’s about the way we are who we were born to be.
If you were to look at all of the great visionaries of the past century, you will find one common quality among them: they all stood out. They all were unique in their own way. They took risks. They failed. They were criticized. They refused to quit. They tried again. They succeeded. They made history.
We all are born with talents unlike anyone else and only our experiences shape those talents into something we either share with the world or we pretend don’t exist. Either way, the real you will eventually come to the surface. It always does.
Some people set out to change the world at a very early age while others end up doing so almost by accident.
Creating a legacy doesn’t begin with writing history in such a way that we notice it immediately. It isn’t found in some great new invention or a way to feed the hungry. Most often, it begins with something much smaller.
It begins with a single thought. A single idea. A single vision. A single word.
All of those things comes together to start the conversation, to initiate change.
Our willingness to not only notice the world, but react to it in such a way that burying our talents no longer is an option is how we change everything. Our willingness to allow ourselves to be seen and heard is the position we take—not because it is required by others, but because it was bestowed upon us to share.
For far too long, we have permitted ourselves to be hermits and recluses in order to excuse our lack of action and our believed shortcomings. We have done this world and everyone in it a huge injustice and disservice and the only way to rectify it is to be who we were born to be.
Some were born to swing and never share a single note attached to a melody. Some were born to dance and never grace us while they float on stage. Some were born to play and never make a single team. Some were born to create and never put those ideas to paper or disclose them to anyone else. Some were born to lead, yet sit quietly in the shadows. Some were born to design, to write, to build, but never do.
Instead, they remain where no one can see them, ignoring our need to have their talents shared with us.
Greatness is found in the willingness to be different every time. No one remembers the legacy that looks like every other one. Your legacy cannot be written if it is locked away behind everything you were born to be.
We all have something unique about us and until we find it and share it, we cheat the world.
Need help finding your greatness?
Ask yourself these questions:
- What do I LOVE to do?
- Where am I most comfortable?
- How am I different?
- How can I share my gifts with others?
Once you realize and accept you have a gift, no matter how small, you will find moments when it naturally steps out of the shadows as it shows people who you really are. It’s easy to pretend it doesn’t matter and pretend it won’t impact anyone.
Our legacies are created not after we are gone, but in the life we lived along the way. It is told in the stories, pictures and memories that leave imprints on the lives it touched and become something that is impossible to erase.
Be different. Because you are. The sooner we embrace our gifts instead of fighting against them the better we are for the world and the people in it.
True greatness lies there—and it always will.
Featured photo credit: Lindy Baker via unsplash.com