Christmas is just around the corner, and while this blog isn’t about the holiday, it is inspired by the holiday classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It’s the story of a reindeer who was ridiculed and ostracized because he was different…just because his nose was shiny and bright. He runs away and eventually finds himself on the Island of Misfit Toys.
I remember as a child sympathizing with all these misfits: “No child wants to play with a Charlie-in-the-Box!” Admittedly, I’m a bit quirky and often felt like a little misfit myself. I was always trying to fit in, especially during those awkward teen and pre-teen years, where you’re trying to figure out who you are and at the same time, come away unscathed.
I found my way and eventually learned to fit in with society. In fact, I spent the last decade or so totally blending in, or disappearing. With a job as an accountant, it was easy for me to hide behind a computer, numbers and spreadsheets. There wasn’t a lot of social interaction, besides some emails and brief banter at the coffee station.
Well, now that I’m hitting middle age, I feel like I’m going through a second puberty. I’m trying to redefine myself, take stock of who I am at this stage of my life, and where I’m going… and feeling a bit awkward in the process. I also find that I can’t hide anymore. My journey now involves exposing myself. And as I’m writing this, I can still hide behind my words, but what really makes me feel like a misfit is social media.
As a life coach who is entering the online marketing arena, I find that I need to put myself out there in a way that I haven’t before. Twenty plus years ago, when I was acting, I would have been riding this social media wave like the best of them. Now it kind of makes me cringe.
Until recently, my Instagram feed has been mainly pictures of nature: flowers, landscapes, sunsets, birds and animal sightings. I feel so much more comfortable behind the camera. And I definitely have a tentative relationship with “the selfie”. There are people who make it look so effortless. Maybe they’ve found the best filters, angles and lighting; for me, it’s a struggle. I don’t think I’ll ever master that “come-hither” look and frankly, I don’t think I want to. That’s not who I am. I need to embrace my inner misfit!
Making Forbes’ 2018 lists for America’s Wealthiest Celebrities and America’s Richest Self-Made Women, is 21 year old Kylie Jenner. With a net worth of $900 million, she is close to being the youngest billionaire…like, what? Because she was insecure about her lips (dare we say, a misfit?), she eventually created her Kylie Lip Kits, inspiring millions of her followers to want what she’s having…“the perfect pout”…and launching a cosmetic empire in the process. Her Instagram following is 122M…that’s MILLION! She was able to leverage her reality star fame and social influencer status to amass her fortune. Kudos to her!
While this example is sort of the pinnacle of social media influence, there are a lot of lesser known influencers that create followings and are profiting from it. How much of their lives are real and true remains to be seen, and how much is illusion? And in the words of Shakespeare, “All that glitters is not gold”.
Whether we are hard wired to fit in for survival purposes, or we have created a culture that encourages and promotes conformity, remains to be seen. Generations have always looked to people with fame and fortune, royalty, Hollywood…and now social media, to set an example and be a role model for what it means to be a part of something. Nowadays, it’s not for physical survival, it’s survival of the ego.
We have become so dependent on this social reality, and one unfortunate outcome is cyber bullying and social rejection. And no one is immune. From an awkward teen to a multimillion dollar celebrity, an unkind word can cut like a knife.
We as a society, as a culture, are constantly creating and constructing reality. If we don’t consciously create it the way we want, a way that’s truthful and authentic to ourselves, then other people will create it for us. We may not be able to control or influence what’s out there, but we can control what’s happening in our own worlds. One way is by consciously choosing what we post and whom to follow. Take a moment to think before you post or comment…is this coming from love? And in the words of my dear, late mother, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Love her!
While greatness often comes from diversity, it may take a hero’s journey to reveal. A misfit is only a misfit compared to what’s considered “the norm”. You can take what makes you different and special, and that can be your greatest asset. And just like Rudolph’s red nose was the very thing that made him invaluable to Santa, guiding his sleigh and making him a hero, so too must we embrace what makes us different.
Challenge for the week: Embrace your misfit!
What makes you different? Embrace your misfit qualities! What makes you different from other people is your gift. What the world needs is people who love themselves and share their gifts and talents.
Like no two snowflakes, no two human beings are the same. By loving our misfit, we can learn to love others as well. And because we are all different, we will never all agree on everything. So let’s all agree to disagree. Right before you post a comment on social media, just stop and think. We can all do our part to spread the love. Let’s support each other instead of tear each other down. We are all in this together!
The reality is that social media is a reality. We may not be uber influencers, but we do have an influence. Let’s go easy on each other…let’s be inclusive. If we are true to ourselves and not trying to fit into some social norm, and we learn to respect each other and accept each other in spite of our differences, then it truly would be a Christmas miracle!
Well, I guess this blog really is about the holiday…the birth of unconditional love for one and all. The gift of love, compassion and acceptance.
Have a very Merry Christmas! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below.