When I was a child, I was considered to be a super smart daughter of a very poor family — and as a result, I was always lonely.
My classmates couldn’t figure out what to do with my always working crazy mind, and I couldn’t figure out what to do with their “childish” behavior. (Who wants to play with Barbie dolls when the world is full of interesting things to learn???)
Nobody told me it was normal. Nobody told me I was normal.
And slowly I learned to think it must be something wrong with me.
I tried to fit in but just couldn’t.
My high school years were somewhat easier. We had all kinds of girls and boys in the class, and it was a very open, very accepting community. That was my happy place for a few years.
Then I started my studies at the university, far from home, far from my high school classmates, far from everyone and everything I had known before.
I was one of the very few girls, somewhat below 5% of the whole faculty. This itself should have been enough to feel special, but I just couldn’t. I could not consider this as a positive thing — it was always a kind of “handicap” for me besides many other things.
I had to work during my studies, while others were focusing on parties, parties and even more parties.
While I was accepted by my classmates, somehow I did not feel belonging there again. I wanted to be like everyone else, but I just couldn’t.
Actually I did not have the energy to be like everyone else.
I just could not.
But nobody told me it was normal.
As a result, instead of having the self-confidence to accept myself, I had more and more confidence over the years that something must be wrong with me.
I have a beautiful family, with three super smart (and unique) kids.
I run my own business, helping international companies around the globe.
While my family absolutely accepts who I am and what I do, I am physically far from my friends who live abroad, and sometimes I also feel my friends living in this country are far from me, too, not understanding my world at all.
I don’t know how to explain my life with three kids to someone who doesn’t have children. How to make them understand the beauty and challenges?!
I don’t know how to explain my working-from-home life to someone who only knows the nine-to-five hours at the same desk in the same office every day for many years.
I don’t know how to explain my travel experiences, adventures, challenges, or even the pains to someone who has never left the country.
So I try to keep discussing topics with everyone that I feel “safe”, that I know they would understand.
Is it “normal”? I’m not sure but this is how I’ve done this for my whole life…
A few weeks ago, a friend overheard a discussion at a conference where someone told:
“Agnes… she is so nice! But the thing that scares me about her is that she’s so f****g smart!”
Wow! Is this how people see me?
Nice? Smart? Scary?
This was a moment that made me think. Yes, it made me somewhat worry, too.
And probably more open to listening to what people around me think about me. I started to really watch and listen to how they see me.
Without asking anything, a friend told me I was “amazing”.
Others told I was “really weird”.
I feel somewhat “not fitting in” everywhere I go.
But should I really mind that at all?
Is it possible to belong somewhere where you feel “weird”?
Today I believe it is.
It is normal to be unique.
It is normal if you do not fit in the crowd.
There is nothing wrong with not being “normal”.
What is normal, anyway?!
Yes, I go to the library rather than a cinema.
Yes, I hate watching TV.
Yes, I prefer eating ice cream with a friend to attending a big party.
Yes, when I go to a mall, sometimes the only thing I buy is new sheets of paper to my Filofax. (Yes, I take notes on paper!)
Yes, I hate window shopping.
Yes, if I have to do some shopping, I prefer to do it alone.
Yes, I prefer to go to the gym alone, too.
Yes, I am an introvert.
Yes, sometimes I love just sitting down with a coffee and reading a book.
Yes, I love the smell and touch of paper books.
But yes, I have a Kindle and I read most of the books there.
(Yes, I think it is OK.)
Yes, I have the best “me-times” when I travel for business.
Yes, it is possible.
es, I still have moments when I have to slow down and think about life.
Yes, I have to convince myself regularly that there’s nothing wrong with me.
That there is nothing wrong with not being “normal”.
Actually, life is amazing if you know how to deal with your uniqueness.
Yes, I wrote this down for myself, too, to be able to get back to it when I need this reminder.
And now, the challenge even got to the next level: I have to teach it to my children, too…