I used to worry about what others think.
This may come as a surprise to some that know me.
As I've said before, I'm a walking dichotomy. I was the only guy in the small town I grew up in, riding a Tony Hawk skateboard and sporting a Vision Street Wear beret. That was pretty extreme for small town Midwest in the late 80's and early 90's. While I was establishing a reputation that later got me voted "Class Revolutionary", I didn't care about the stylish clothes or popular opinion, yet (surprise, surprise!) there was a dichotomy in my thinking.
At the same time I was being my sports rejecting, sci fi loving, skateboarding, rap writing self, part of me was upset when people thought of me as odd..."I don't care what you think!" and "Why do you look at me that way? I'm just being me!" went hand in hand.
When I got into the "real" world, I noticed a disturbing trend in my thinking when it came to my professional life. On some levels, I became a paranoid conspiracy theorist. I felt like this person or that person had been spreading half truths and nonsense about me and it was damaging my professional reputation.
To be honest, i was made aware that a little of that had actually occurred, but my mind expanded upon it.
These old haunting resurfaced again not long ago.
I found that I was on the outside of a circle I very much wanted to be in professionally. My mind (not being fully present at the time) concocted a story as to why I was shunned.
A few moments before I started writing this blog post, I had a moment of clarity...
Let's say for argument's sake that there are some elusive reasons that I was not welcomed into this inner circle...when it comes right down to it, does it matter? Do I care?
Of course most of us feel very happy and comfortable belonging to a group.
I'm not going to say that being outside of a circle is easy, but as I look back, did the opinions of others change me from my course? Nope. I still skated, still wore the beret...I was still me.
My current path? Am I going to change who I am and what I do so I have the chance of being invited into an inner circle? Nope.
I have unintentionally made a habit of following my own course...much to the frustration of others I might add. But the thing is, ultimately, I don't have to answer to anyone but me. I can bypass the "rah rah" popularity bandwagon and do just fine. The right people will decide to associate with me...I don't have to bow and scrape to join someone else's club.
I'm not going to say that I still don't think about being one of the "in" crowd from time to time, but it's really not as important as it used to be.
I have long said, "If I'm making everyone happy all the time, I must be doing something wrong." If everyone is pleased, then I'm not pushing boundaries hard enough.
Am I content to have a humble music therapy private practice and go quietly about my business? Or perhaps live out my remaining days as a music teacher or teacher of the visually impaired, punching the clock in a tired and broken system?
I am here to transform the system people, not get swept under it! I'm not really the "cog in the machine" type.
I hear some of my current colleagues counting the days till retirement...actually counting (and that day is not coming this year). I told them, "I want to create work for myself that I don't want to retire from. I want my work to end when I die."
They laughed at me.
I want to be filled with so much passion and energy about my life's work that at 104 years of age, people will say "Yeah, thought the old man was going to cash it in, but he showed up again today!"
A while back, a bit of enlightenment came to me: "I am not confined by your definitions...your limitations do not apply to me."
Don't waste time trying to fit into a mold or image someone else has created for you. You're the one that must look at yourself when you get up in the morning, and your opinion is the one that matters when you drift off to sleep each night.
As "The most interesting man in the world" says, "Find that thing in life you don't do well, then don't do that thing."
Beyond that, remember the catchy phrases "Whatever you are, be a great one" and "Boldly go."
Now, stop messing with your hair and go be extraordinary!
Let the "in" crowd dictate popular opinion...such things are small and limiting, and to be honest, I don't have time for small and limiting.