Beautifully Different

Prompt from reverb10: Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Thanks Noorin for letting me know about this, I love it!)

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then how do I behold myself? One of things I have contemplated most over the past year is how to see myself as I really am. Not who school tells me I am, or my community, or the NGO world I’m so desperately seeking to enter. Everything I see myself as these days is shaped by how I present myself in cover letters and resumes. How can I be different enough to stand out from the pack of unemployed, crawl my way to the top of the pile?

The things that make me different, and maybe beautiful, certainly don’t belong in bullet points on a resume – this message is for all of us trying to find ourselves in the world when what we thought we were is thrown back at us. We are still unique, still deserving, and still beautiful. So whether or not what I do lights you up, it is what makes me different. And if it does light you up, so much the better! I always want to see a smile on your face.

My propensity to talk about things most people find depressing. I will assail you with tales of mineral wars and climate change over your desert, and maybe it’s not what you want to hear, but I want you to know about it. Because the longer we ignore it, the harder gets to turn things around.

The wrinkles on my forehead. Hard earned from laughing hysterically, staring at my computer and reading dry academic articles for hours on end. I feel they give my face character, and add even more charm to the strange faces I make.

My smile. Huge and a little bit crooked, it tends to pop up at the slightest provocation. As a good friend once said “If any guy ever felt like he wasn’t very funny, he would just need Helen around to make him feel funny again.”

My ability to remain calm in most crises. In fact, I think I get even calmer when things get most difficult – case in point, the Brazil episode. You know what I mean. Travel can help even the most wound up among us to let go of expectations and go with the flow of things, thereby experiencing the world more fully. I have been told I have a gift of patience. Except when it comes to dealing with traffic on an empty stomach.

My stories. I’ve collected a few good ones over the years, and a good friend enjoys retelling them with exaggerations, but at their root, they really are pretty good. They involve airplanes, pickles, dolphins, wetsuits, international borders and long-haul buses, to name only a few. If you don’t already know them, do ask me, as I enjoy telling them with a flourish. I’ve met some pretty incredible people and seen some crazy things, which should be done justice by being shared with as many as possible.

Tree-hugging. I love nature and I’m not ashamed to admit it! If you’ve never hugged a tree, you don’t know what you’re missing – the sheer strength of life pouring into you from a being that has been there longer than you, and will probably be there long after you’re gone. Look at the mountains and think of what they see. Stare out across the ocean and realize how small you are. Nature provides for us, nurses us, reminds us of how huge our energy can be and yet how tiny we are in the universe.

Positivity. I know what the problems are, I’ve heard the reasons we can’t change, I’ve seen the results of our lives and how they affect other people. But I’ve also seen tireless smiles on the faces of those most affected, and I’ve seen what we can achieve. I’m not willing to give up on humans just yet.