I fell in love in September. I didn’t think it could happen again. But it did.
It’s a little complicated because, you see, I’m in love with three people. Two women and a man. And they live in a fictional town called Pawnee, Indiana, where they run the Parks & Recreation department.
Yes, I am ridiculous. And so are Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) and April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza). And it’s their eccentricity – literally how far off center they are – that makes me love them. Leslie with her Type A, waffle and whipped cream fueled plans. Ron’s clinging to a simpler frontiersman time. And April’s dark and brooding demeanor, guarding her heart of gold.
(Never seen Parks & Rec? Stop what you are doing immediately and invest some time in this modern masterpiece.)
The vibrancy of their characters is beautiful. They are full out who they are. It’s so attractive. And being this way, yes, even though they are fictional, they whisper a secret invitation for us to be fully our own versions of eccentric.
So let’s talk real world. What is it that makes us so afraid of being a little off center? So afraid that we won’t be accepted by the masses who run together in the safety of the herd? I have some ideas.
This week, in two different corners of my life, two extraordinarily talented and creative people told me that their insecurities are sneaking up on them. They are feeling restricted and vulnerable to a perceived (or even real) raised eyebrow from those who are on the straight and narrow.
Pull out the soapbox. Here comes the speech.
Life is about coming back to who you really are. The essence of yourself before you cared about what other people thought. When your imagination and inspiration guided you. Before you felt the sting of being left out, when you weren’t even sure that you even wanted to be included with those kids. When having SOMEONE to play with was way better than sitting alone in the schoolyard.
Please tell me that you didn’t have this experience growing up. That you weren’t the person on the sidelines. And if you were, that you didn’t care. That you were happy playing alone, doing your own thing. That being left out, left behind didn’t feel like a message screaming, “You don’t matter.” I would love to hear these stories from a writer, an artist, a creative soul. Because that sounds like just the kind of childhood experience that I hope everyone could have.
But it doesn’t always work out this way. And that’s what adulthood is for.
I’m here to tell you now that it’s okay to be off center. Like Leslie, Ron and April, being colorful and fully yourself is attractive and exciting and alive! That magic lives on the fringes. That the world NEEDS you to be unabashedly bold. That worlds are created from this place.
Be yourself – the more eccentric, the better. Seriously. You are not alone and your colors are so damn beautiful.