Yesterday my (almost 6-year old) son and I went exploring our local area on foot. We were walking to a park we had never been to before. On the way we saw two rather ferocious looking dogs ahead that were running around barking aggressively at us. I stopped us and told him that I wasn't sure that the dogs were on leashes and that maybe we should turn back. Just then I looked up again and could see a chain jerk tight on one of the dogs as it jumped up. Then I noticed a rather rough looking woman sitting in the yard looking at me like I was an idiot for being afraid of her obviously chained up dogs. Before I could say that they were on chains, my son took my hand firmly and tugged. He looked up at me with the bravest look on his little face and said, "Come on Mommy, I'll protect you." I kept my knowledge of the leashes to myself and allowed him to bravely lead us into danger.
To that woman, I was a fool. To my son, as he would tell me later, I was a lady who needed to be protected by a gentlemen. That experience could mean two things to me. I could have a chip on my shoulder about the judgmental look from the woman or I could embrace the fact that my son had a chance to be a hero and protect his mommy, who he obviously must love and value a lot. I choose the latter.
A few years ago I was in a bar. One of my favorite non-mommy, non-healthy things to do is to find some good live music in an unassuming bar, sink into a dark corner and nurse a beer while I people watch. I love to see them laughing and dancing and just study the dynamics of different types of people in one festive place together. Well, the person I was with that particular night tried to shame me for not getting up and dancing and socializing. He said I was a knot on a log. I argued that I love to do those things (which I do!) but I liked to people watch too. In retrospect, I wish I could go back, being the person I am now and simple shrug my shoulders and say, "This is what I like."
So how do these two stories relate? They are all about perspective. I have spent most of my life being the ugly duckling. Too freely sharing my feelings, being weird, being too enthusiastic, too dramatic, too this and that. Only recently have I come to learn that I am not "too" any of those things, except to a select few who are rude enough to point it out.
When I worked in an office setting, my loud dramatic expressions were frowned upon by somber business men. Now, in the fitness industry, I am hugged and thanked for my explosion of personality on a fairly regular basis. Am I everyone's cup of tea? Most definitely not! But neither are you. And neither is anyone.
In this life we will always be ugly to someone in some capacity. We can choose to define ourselves by the opinions of the few or we can choose to define ourselves as the ugly duckling, simply misunderstood and absolutely beautiful in our own space. Once again, I choose the latter.