I honestly thought everyone's mind worked the same way mine did - racing along avenues of interest, pursuing several ideas at the same time, and jumping seamlessly from one train of thought to another. No one told me any different, so I thought people around me were just trying to annoy me.
Back then it just wasn't acceptable for a girl - especially a minister's daughter in Mitchell, South Dakota - to be anything but "sugar and spice and everything nice". Needless to say, my response to the negative waves around me was to be miserable.
It didn't change much when we moved to Sacramento where I completed grades 6-11. There were less restrictions on who I could be, but social situations were still a challenge. I graduated from high school a year early and fled off to study Psychology. While I decided part-way through working on my MA that this field wasn't the right choice for me, I certainly benefited personally from the coursework.
Over the next few decades, I continued to struggle with social norms and truly disliked myself for it. Why was "fitting in" so hard for me when others seemed to do it effortlessly? I never was a girly girl who worshiped celebrities or craved to become a Susie Homemaker, but there seemed to be more to it.
One major key was discovering that my mind raced and moved through the thought process in a way different from most around me. I remember being in a meeting with one employer when they stopped the conversation and said, "I go A-B-C-D and you go A-G-M-Z. You need to go through the steps one after the other for me." WOW! Who knew?
Then there was the great day I met someone whose mind raced the same way mine did. We were talking excitedly over coffee, constantly interrupting each other without losing the conversation thread. Our waitress stopped in amazement and asked how could we converse that way? It felt so right to me.
This was a great moment, but self-love still came hard. We all want to feel like we fit in. Getting those weird looks when we don't is never easy. I struggled along the journey to conform until the day I discovered interviewing. From the first interview, passion hit me full between the eyes. I was hooked.
Over time I came to realize the intensity of my natural curiosity for people's lives combined with my racing mind were actually strong talents when listening to another's story. There was a reason, a purpose for why I was the way I was, My perspective began to change. Once I began to accept that there was at least one positive aspect to it, I began to see others.
- When I start pursuing a new direction, there is a palpable excitement that courses through my system. It's like a big shot of endorphins combined with just the right amount of adrenaline - a potent cocktail. I fly on a wave of positive energy. It's feels amazing and I am always a bit sad that it doesn't stick around to motivate me during the hard work ahead.
- There also seems to be a side benefit of having a more sensitive emotional radar. This can be negative if you allow in negative vibes, but it also can help you really tune in to someone. In interviewing this means sensing what is important and asking the right questions. On a personal basis it can help guide you when a family member or friends needs support.
- That same radar comes in handy when I enter a room filled with high energy and great vibes, I literally absorb it. My mood goes up, my energy goes up, smiles and laughter ensue.It can snap me out of the blues faster than anything I know and I can channel that energy right back to those around me.
- When I turn my focus to a new project, it's like a super intense spotlight. There is no distraction that can side track me when I'm honed in on a exiting new direction. While this doesn't last a long time, I can accomplish a tremendous amount in the short period of time I am 100% on point.
So there you go. There so many positive lessons from those I interviewed over the years. Probably the three most important when it comes to self-acceptance are:
- All your unique quirks are actually your talents when you find their purpose.
- Living life according to your inner voice means that some people will not like you and that's okay,
- Lastly, it's important to find your tribe. These are the people who accept and encourage you for exactly who you are. Let those negative voices fade.