PHOTO: SEAN RAYFORD FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL – Jory Fleming said his service dog, Daisy, helped him meet other students at college.

“My grandmother told me, “Never hide your green hair – they can see it anyway.” – Angeles Arrien

 

In “The Book of Awakening”, Mark Nepo encourages us to embrace those things we have been teased about or made fun of, those things we tried to hide in our awkwardness, in our desire to conform, to be accepted.

What is your “green hair”? What are the parts of your personality you feel embarrassed about?

When I think back to my childhood one thing I tried to hide my interest in spirituality, my quest to find purpose. I always felt different, felt abnormal. I didn’t want some of the things others sought in life, or more I wanted some of the “normal things” but wanted more. I wanted to do something remarkable, something that made the world a better place. I was always looking to change the status quo. But over time being laughed at, called names, joked about, I slowly steered away from that which made me unique. Inside that searching never stopped. It is still very much alive today, and now I have given it permission to come out again. Much like in childhood I am now again experiencing the questioning, the odd looks when I “show my green hair.” The images of someone searching for spirituality conjure up pictures of crystals, mantras, flowing robes, and irresponsibility. “Get real, get a job!” – while many won’t say it, they most likely are thinking it.

Jon Nastor, author and host of the podcast “Hack the Entrepreneur”, tells a story in his book “Hack The Entrepreneur: How to Stop Procrastinating, Build a Business, and Do Work That Matters”, about Dominic Johnson-Hill, founder and Creative Director of China’s first streetwear clothing brand, Plastered T-Shirts. As a kid, Dominic was always getting in trouble, and even got kicked out of school. Yet the very things that got him into trouble, the things the teacher listed as his problems turned out to be his defining strengths as an entrepreneur.

Flaws that make us stand out, those things we try desperately to hide, often turn out to be our unique selling propositions.

An article in The Wall Street Journal on January 2nd, tells the inspiring story of Jory Fleming who is headed to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. What is remarkable about this story is that Jory has autism and a metabolic disorder. Jory’s extraordinary progress is due in part to his mom’s belief in him, homeschooling, and embracing his sense of curiosity.  Kelly Fleming, who had just completed her medical degree, gave up her chance to become a doctor and choose instead to care for Jory and homeschool him. It was the hardest decision of her life. But rather than seeing Jory’s condition as a curse, she saw it as a gift. Kelly allowed Jory to set the learning path, and his love of birds led him to other things he was interested in, such the beach, geophysics, and geography. If Kelly had tried to shut down Jory’s different approach to learning he most likely would still be living a frustrated life, unable to communicate and fully participate. Kelly didn’t hide Jory’s “green hair.”

Uncover your “green hair.”  Those things that make you unique can never be truly hidden.  Instead of fighting against your awkwardness see it as a gift.  Turn it into your own superpower.

What is your “green hair” that you are hiding?  What scares you most about showing it?

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