As an only child and one of the youngest in my class I spent a lot of time in junior school trying to figure out the rules of social engagement. I managed well enough to avoid being bullied but it took me quite some time to become comfortable in my own skin and to figure out my unique way of engaging with the world. That is a story for another day; for today I draw inspiration from Lydia Yuknavitch who tells her story, “The Misfit’s Journey” at Ted 2016.
Towards the end of her talk she starts to speak directly to her fellow misfits in the room. “There’s a myth in most cultures about following your dreams. It’s called the ‘hero’s journey.’ I prefer another myth to the side of that, or underneath it maybe. It’s called the ‘misfit’s myth,’” she says. “You may not know this yet, but you have the ability to reinvent yourself, endlessly. That’s your beauty.”
“You can be a drunk. You can be an abuse survivor. You can be an ex-con. You can be a homeless person,” she says. “You can lose all your money or your job or your husband or your wife or, the worst thing of all, a child. You can even lose your marbles.”
“You can be standing dead center in the middle all of your failure,” she says, “and still I’m only here to tell you: you are so beautiful and your story deserves to be heard. Because you, you rare and phenomenal misfit– you new species — are the only one in the room who can tell the story the way only you would.”
As a change management and transition coach I am struck by the “gold” she finds in being a “misfit” – ” the ability to re-invent yourself endlessly.” If you choose to fit into the conventional mold then there is no need for a personal re-invention. You just have to do what everyone else is doing. It may be comfortable but it sounds hollow to me.
James Hollis, author of What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life, gives a message similar to Lidia’s: “We are not here to fit in, be well balanced, or provide exempla for others. We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being. As the gods intended, we are here to become more and more ourselves.”
Those of you who want to become “more and more yourselves” will be delighted and inspired by Lidia’s TED talk
Posted by life, career and leadership coach, Juliette Gyure.