I never go looking for wisdom in strange places. But one of my greatest joys in life (so what, right?) is when it jumps out at me unexpectedly.
When I started the 6th grade I was headed into a new school and feeling particularly anxious about it. All my old friends knew I had the tendency to touch them when I talked…and that I had a lot to say. The loss of most of my hearing had come to a head and I was riddled with anxiety about having to introduce those things that were me to a whole new group of kids. Not to mention, at a time when kids have a tendency to be huge assholes. Unwelcoming and cruel…I found that doesn’t change much with age. But I’ve learned ways around it. Or at least ways to lessen the blow.
So…when my daughter started kindergarten last year, ahead of the game in a lot of ways, she still had medical eyes on her at most times. And she was worried about what she called “the attention”. Some of us like it. To some, it makes us feel special. And to some…well, we just want to be left in peace and keep the eyes off of us while we go about our business. Everyone else does so why can’t we. And she and I are a lot alike in that way.
I reminded her of something my mom always told me when I was having trouble. “Just Smile”…that’s it. She was right. It helped me out of a lot of difficult situations. And told people more about me than I could explain myself. So when my daughter said “Everyone wants to be my friend! I don’t even know why!”, not only was I over the moon for her, I was able to point out “that’s because you’re always smiling. That’s why people can tell you are a nice girl and they know you want to play”.
And when we came across this silly looking book in the library bookstore a few months later…I knew it would be one of her favorites. And it was. And it is…
And the first page alone couldn’t be more true, for all of us….
His one answer?…you guessed it.
For a goofy kid’s book, it’s all dead on. I learned this lesson long ago because I needed to. Because I was scared. Because I refused to be left out. Because I genuinely enjoy the company of other people. And because I never wanted to be considered different. Not in the ways I was worried about. And it forced me to be different in ways I was proud of. Regardless of how I’m treated, perceived or judged. By anyone. No matter how special they are to me.
But thanks to simple bits of wisdom like this and through knowing her own unique strengths, she is learning, by the grace of God, exactly why she is so special. Not why she’s “different”. It is not our job in life to change others perception of us. It’s our job to change our own.