When Misfits are the best fits

We all recognize folks who don’t fit the norm. You might be one of them. I know I am. It’s good to be different.

Let’s face it. We’re all different. There’s no denying that we each have unique skill sets to bring to different venues. I love watching Master Chef. Even though I’m a very picky eater, some of the meals they create have made me want to expand my palate. I have seen very unique individuals that don’t look like they belong in a kitchen, create masterpieces. Looks aren’t everything. In fact, many of my friends have tattoos that go on for days and are some of the most talented people I know. Years ago, society would have called them something else for their art.

One of my favorite tv specials every Christmas is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Remember Hermey? The elf that really wanted to be a dentist and was told he was an elf. He had to make toys just like all the other elves. So, Hermey ran away. It was through his adventures with Rudolph, Yukon Cornelius and the toys and other animals that they encountered along the way that he found the courage to go after his dream. Eventually he achieved his dream of being a dentist. He found a new respect among the other elves and his superior. The biggest thing that stands out to me about his adventures is that society has labeled us for so long as to what we were supposed to be that now people are busting through those labels. They are changing the dynamic of what is normal and I think it’s awesome.

I saw a picture of one of my cousins recently. She has always had a dirty blonde hair look and now she has some red streaks in her hair. She looks amazing. I may not say this to my family often enough but I’m proud of them. All of the cousins have had children, and while I may not have a child of my own, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that it’s okay to be different. We don’t have to be what everyone else expects of us. All we have to do is be okay with ourselves.

I see folks with all kinds of hair styles. Some are multicolored. Some folks have short hair on one side and long on the other. Ava Max, a popular singer is someone that I love to watch because she has this style. Each of us has our own identity. Some folks are more flamboyant than others. Some are timid and shy. What ever the case may be, no one can take away your individuality.

I have seen folks who look like they belong in a punk band, that in different decades would have been considered problems. Well, I don’t know about the rest of you but it doesn’t take long for people to realize that you can’t judge someone off the way they look. How many of you enjoy NCIS? When I first started watching it, I fell in love with the character of Abby. Here was a woman who wore goth clothing to work and yet because of her skill set, was considered an equal among her peers. In fact, it was because of her abilities that her team respected her and her choice of wardrobe.

I saw something recently on a tv show called Bluff City Law that made me take a pause for a moment. The story was about a young African American student who had long hair and wrestled. In the rule book, it said he had to have short hair in order to compete. The student didn’t want to cut his hair. It was a part of what he considered to be his individuality. What harm was his hair to someone else? I think it’s interesting how they approached the topic because it goes to reiterate my point. As long as what we are doing isn’t harming others, then why are we being asked to conform who we are in order to appease others? I can’t change the fact I’m white. Nor can someone change the fact that they are the race they are. What we can change is how we treat one another. The young man in that show was a champion wrestler but he won something even better in his fight to keep his hair. He won the respect of others. Sometimes the very people we think should be made to conform are the ones who stand out the best because they are not afraid to be who they are.

Being different leads to conversations and conversations often lead to change. It’s time to stop labeling people and accepting them for their uniqueness.

I have other folks in my life that I absolutely adore. One just died recently due to epilepsy. He didn’t mind being different. He was able to go just about anywhere he wanted because he walked everywhere. He didn’t let epilepsy slow him down even though he looked homeless. Others wanted to put him in a group home. In fact, he probably should have been in one but he did things his way. He was able to go about his day and live his life without limitations. The assumptions were that he was incapable but the reality was he beat insurmountable odds daily.

So why do I say that misfits are often the best fits? Perhaps it’s because those who do not fit the norm challenge our way of thinking. They have learned that they are unique. Sure, we all know that we’re different. But have you ever noticed that from the time kids are in school, most of them are trying to fit in and don’t always allow themselves to stand out? It’s getting a little better than it used to be but there is still a perception of the cheerleader and jock mentalities that aren’t always easy to eradicate.

How many of you go to a coffee shop and just watch people? Have you ever noticed the ones who are so busy on their phones that they have no concept of what’s going on around them? Or have you noticed the folks who look different that you wouldn’t think step foot in a coffee shop and yet, many times, they are the baristas who create the drinks that revolutionize our days. It’s not just the appearance that sets the tone for who a person is even though they are often perceived with unfair labels. It’s what a person brings to the table. Talent and conversation go a long way in being a good fit.

Companies often promote those who fit a certain image. I’m really glad that there’s a lot of people out there who are challenging them for change. There was once upon a time that you couldn’t find many people who went against looking normal. But then what is normal? In the early 70’s to mid 80’s tatoos weren’t very common. Now it’s not common to not have one. Personally, I don’t have a tattoo but not because I don’t like them. It’s actually quite the opposite. My problem is I’m too fickly. I don’t want to get one and then end up changing my mind. In many ways, I’ve become the misfit in the circle of my peers because I don’t have any artwork gracing my body.

I have a couple of friends who are transgender. I don’t see them often enough because they live pretty far away from me but I treasure their friendship. I’ve known them since childhood and what’s ironic to me is that when they are asked about their transition, they will be the first to tell you that they’ve always known who they were. It wasn’t about creating a firestorm of conversations. They just wanted to be allowed to live their lives as their true selves. One of my ex boyfriends is now a woman. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I felt after I found out she was a she now. I was confused, and angry, and almost sick to my stomach at first. I had a lot of emotions that bubbled up and I had to have some very serious conversations within myself to find out why I felt that way. It was because I had grown up with one mentality and was having my mentality altered. My comfort zone was shattered so in many ways and I thank her. She showed me that I was the one who needed to strip away the labels and see that she was living her best life without caring who thought she didn’t fit what society wanted. Now she is a musician who is happily with the love of her life and I applaud her.

We can’t assume that we know who is best for a job without first doing our homework. If we go completely off the internet to look at candidates, we can’t see the personality. All we see is what’s on paper but if we have a chance to look at those who we wouldn’t have normally given a second glance, we often see that we are missing out on unique individuals with diverse skill sets. If you are in the market for a new employee, look beyond the words. Yes, we all have to read between the lines but sometimes it’s the lines we can’t see that make the best melodies. Challenge yourself to not judge someone off a first impression. Someone could have a bad day and not be able to express themselves well. Others might be finding that their health isn’t what it was. All of us have stories that are unique to us and while the stories might be similar at times, they are a part of what merges our souls into one of the most diversified melting pots around. We’re all considered misfits at times, that’s why we truly are the best fit in society. We have voices. Let’s use them for positive change.

When we allow others who are different to teach us, we often learned more than we ever thought possible.

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