Just the other day I ran into a woman on the street walking her 4-month-old German Shepard puppy. I happened to be walking Theo and naturally, had to stop and say hello.
As the pups wrestled we chatted. She was new(ish) to town and immediately complimented and commented on my outfit. I was wearing some brightly colored wide-leg-pants and my favorite brown hat.
You're not from here, right? She inquired.
Actually, yes, I am.
Really?! She couldn't believe it.
But you're just so ATYPICAL for D.C. I thought for sure you were from the West Coast. I was thinking Bay Area.
And if you thought she was surprised then, you should have seen her face when I shared that I'm a Wellness Guide who teaches mental resilience, women's circles, and kundalini yoga. She promptly asked for my card, sharing that she's a lawyer and (and as so many of us know) the corporate world can feel worlds away from "well."
Shortly thereafter we and our pups parted ways. But I kept thinking about that word: Atypical. Rolling it around in my head, in my heart. What did it mean to be atypical? What was it about standing out in some sort of unique way?
And aren't we conditioned to do the reverse? To fit in? Watch the news? Buy into the cycle of Culture? Follow the leader? Sit still and stay in line?
I scanned my memory banks for atypical times. Surely my career is different - especially in a city like Washington. And yes, I was wearing a bit of a bold outfit. But what if those things - our line of work, our dress - was focused much more on highlighting our creativity, or fitting out than fitting "in"? Why can a city like New York or San Francisco get away with that uniqueness, while Washington seems to lag behind in the creativity department?
And what if we adorned our bodies and our days with the intellectual and literal decor that we find most interesting, inspiring, and unique?
What if being atypical wasn't so....atypical?
It was never my intention to be contrarian. I remember wanting more than anything to fit-in in my middle school days...and high school days...and some college days...and surely at times in my "adult" life. But there can be moments and momentum that start to snap us out of that habit of following the herd.
What snapped me out, was the calling of my own heart. To live brighter. Be bolder. Find a way to be happier. And amazingly, it wasn't that difficult and scary. When I got still enough to listen to those calls for something different, something new, it became easy. A low-effort choice to stand up for myself even if it happened to mean standing out.
These days I'm more interested in listening to my own needs, however they be categorized. Not drinking alcohol is a decision I made almost a year ago that's been one of the best energetic boosts I could ever imagine. Not allowing in the pressure to have a child in my early 30s is another. Creating a schedule that works for me instead of the work/slave mentality of a 9-5 is a third example.
So whether you've been Captain Typical or Miss Oddball, here's to all the ways - small or large - you've listened to that small inner voice over the shouts of the outer crowd. Here's to all the ways we have been atypical. May we continue to march to the beat of our own drum, and begin to make the atypical typical.
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