Loving Your Flaws When Others Do Not
“If you’ve not been criticized, booed, jeered, or such; it’s not because you have no flaws, but because you don’t count so much”
I fell in love with that poem when I heard Danny Thomas say it at the end of a Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roast that was held in his honor. I’m not sure that these are his original words, but they really hit home for me. I’ve always had to deal with harsh criticisms from people who don’t understand me and aren’t interested in trying to. All they know is that I am different from what is acceptable as normal, and it sometimes seems most important to these people that I know that they believe me to be “weird“.
Some of Us March To Our Own Drummers/ Some of Us Have Our Own Rhythm Section
People who are not afraid to march to their own drumbeat often endure the criticisms of other people– sometimes even the ones that we love. Personally, I’ve been labeled with a plethora of adjectives that were used on me with the intent of hurting me or breaking me. Terms like: different, weird, crazy, strange, even retarded! Even more outlandish terms such as: snooty, stuck up, and selfish! (Clearly these are people who have never gotten to know me, or people who did something to get on my bad side). I think my favorite snide remark about me is: “You’re too much”. Because of the context in which it is used, that is ACTUALLY supposed to be an insult! I’ve always wondered if they knew that being “too much” is so much better that being “not enough“.
There was a time when those types of remarks would really sting. Especially when they came from relatives and so called close friends. I spent many years feeling as though I really did not “fit” anywhere. I felt unwanted so I tried to follow trend–at least enough to fit in amongst my peers. As a result, I started losing myself. Sure, I fit in and everyone thought I was cool, but I didn’t like myself so much anymore. I decided to take a time out for self assessment. I needed to decide which was more important: that “they” like me, or that I liked myself.
You Have To Live With Yourself
Of all of the components of this issue, there would be one thing that would never change– I would have to live with me for the rest of my life. No one else would ever be obligated to live with me forever except for me; so I’d better get as comfortable with myself as possible. With this mindset, I decided that fitting in to avoid criticism was no longer an option for me. Regardless of the general consensus, I would always be the me-est me that I could be!
I won’t pretend that this was easy– it wasn’t. In fact, at times it was physically and emotionally draining. I felt alone and misunderstood which moved me to create a fence around myself. That might not sound like a good idea but at the time it was necessary. I needed the time and space to get comfortable in my own skin. Even though I felt alone often, I believed that I truly needed the time to myself. I’m an extrovert, so this was a difficult but necessary step to take if I really wanted to get back to “me”.
I stopped going to clubs and parties. Most of the times that I spent time in these kinds of places was at the behest of people that I thought I needed to blend in with. Instead of going out to night clubs and parties, I started hanging out at Barnes & Noble at night on weekends. I’d always loved to read but I hadn’t read a book in a couple of years because I was too busy fitting in. In fact, books became an important part of this odyssey. I spent a lot of time in libraries as well. I read about everything that I saw. I had so many questions and there was a book or 100 for every question that I had. This new behavior aligned me with others who shared my newly reformed interest in reading. These were people that I met at Barnes & Noble or the library. Eventually, I started taking classes at a community college where I met even more people who loved to read and learn.
I did not completely cease contact with my party people–instead I inserted reasonable distance. From time to time, I’d still communicate with a few of them. I told the few that I still dealt with what I had been doing and where I had been going, and to my surprise, one or two of them became interested also. I will not take this as an opportunity to pat my own back but I have a couple of friends who are now very well read…because of me-the de facto weirdo.
Conversely, there were also people from my former band of associates who felt that I was “acting funny“. Being called uppity and sadity (I really cant stand that (non)word) didn’t bother me at all but rather, showed me that I was better off being in my own “little world” and away from such people. This would prove to be much better for me. I felt lighter, I smiled more, and strangers always seemed happy to have me around. This felt right. This was the life that I knew before my experiment with conformity.
As time has moved on, I’ve found that I can comfortably be myself in any company and I never feel the need to readjust myself. On the rare occasion that I am uncomfortable in certain company, I simply remove myself–physically if possible. If I can’t remove myself physically, I remove myself mentally. I worked hard and had become brave enough to be accept my eccentricities –not take umbrage from those who couldn’t appreciate my “me-ness“. To this day, I dress differently, I speak differently, and my belief systems and are ideals are different compared to those of my peers– and if that ever changes, it will be only because I want to change them– not because they do not work with the masses. And people…well, they still have things to say. It usually comes back to me through the grapevine, but I never spend any time on their opinions. I wish them all well and move on with my life.
Stand Up To Stand Out/ Inventors vs Consumers
Not everyone is meant to be one of the crowd; some of us were placed on planet Earth to stand out. I call it “inventors vs consumers“. You have to be a little odd to be an inventor. To create something, you have to be able to think differently than the masses. Most of the things that have become necessities in our everyday lives were invented by weirdos–people who were talked about, ostracized, picked on, and misunderstood. The same can be said about the greatest leaders of the world. But they worked on their crafts and they made a difference in the world. They are all very important people and life as we know it would be very different had they decided to become one of the crowd in order to avoid ridicule. Consumers are equally important because obviously, someone has to buy and use these inventions, and by nature they follow. It’s us weirdos who provide the crowd with what they need in order to be cool.
I carry Danny Thomas’ poem in my mind because it reminds me that no one takes the time to criticize, jeer, or put down insignificant people. We actually have to qualify to be subject to insult. Our flaws are integral parts of who we are, they make us beautiful. Love your flaws and be flawsome as you go on to do great things– be they public or private victories. Stay steadfast, confident and vested in yourself!