Recently I gave myself a long overdue gift. Interestingly it was a gift that I would have never thought giving. Yet, if I would’ve given it sooner I would have been a lot better off.
So, confession time: I’ve always wanted to be a jock.
As a result I’ve always seen myself and looked at life through that lens. I would try to do activities jocks liked. I would try to hang out with jocks.
To a degree I was successful. In high school I ‘lettered’ my sophomore year. Meaning I had attained a level of ability that allowed me to contribute enough to make an impact on the Varsity level: Points scored, minutes played, races won, etc…
My Junior and Senior year of high school I lived in Paraguay and was able to hone my soccer skills. So much so that Olimpia, my favorite Paraguayan Professional Soccer Club team, invited me to play in their Cadet program – with the intent of making my way to their ‘A-team’. I went on to play soccer in College.
However, that is where my ‘success’ ended. Try as a might, I never fit in with the jock crowd. I felt like a misfit. This was especially true in College. I excused it away as being a case of ignorance on the part of the other jocks. In my mind I explained by saying, ‘Clark, you grew up in third world countries and play a sport (soccer) that they just don’t understand. You are a jock, just in a sport that they don’t get – so of course they are going to look at you weird and don’t know how to interact with you.”
I see now that I allowed this desire to fit in drive me to try to prove my value to them in any way I could so that I could gain their acceptance.
Try as I might, thought, I never fit in with the jock crowd. I felt like a misfit.
Fast forward to the present. Over a span of two weeks, out of the blue, three different people have labeled me. And it was not a label I was expecting.
One said, ‘Doug you are such a nerd!’ He definitely didn’t mean it as demeaning, and I chalked this one down to just a momentary lapse in judgment on his part.
Then shortly after that in a different setting another person said, “Doug you are somewhere between a psychologist and a brainiac. Kind of a nerd.” Hmmm, back in the recesses of who Doug was this began to bounce around and get comfortable!
Then in another completely different interaction a third person labeled me and said, “Doug you have got to be the most sociable nerd I have ever met!”
Why would they say that?
As I considered our conversations, I began to see how they came to that conclusion.
In each case I had been talking to them about estimates, possibilities, actuaries, logic, tangibles, intangibles. Facts, concepts, possibilities all just flowed from my mind and out my mouth. Without giving it a second thought I was able to explain, describe, illustrate and connect inter-personal relationships with concepts, numbers, estimates, possibilities, etc…
Bang! Pow! Zap! Ding! Just like that the lights went on, music started playing, a warm sensation went through me as if I had just come home.
“What was going on?” I asked myself. “Why am I comfortable with this label? I am a jock.”
All my life I had seen myself as completely on the opposite end of the spectrum from the nerds.
Yet, I wore my self-label as ‘jock’ very awkwardly.
When these three people – unsolicited – all declared that I was a ‘nerd’, I couldn’t believe the feelings that coursed through me. It was weird, kind of like, after living more than half my life trying to be a jock, I had finally found my identity. It was almost like I was hearing my name for the first time.
More surprisingly, as I put on this ‘new to me’ label, I realized that it fit – really well! It was comfortable. It was me.
As I looked at myself through those eyes, everything came into focus.
Suddenly it dawned on me, I am not a jock.
I am a nerd.
So what was the gift I gave myself?
I gave myself the freedom to be me. To be a nerd.
Do you realize how truly liberating that was for me?
It was like a huge present.
The benefit to others?
Now, that I am functioning under my real me, my true identity:
I don’t have to waste energy and time trying to prove who I am.
I don’t have to waste energy and time trying and prove my value in an arena where I don’t belong.
I am free to offer me.
I have value in the arena in which I exist.
Can I invite you to join me – be generous to yourself – give yourself the give to be YOU!
The real you.
The genuine you.
The ‘let’s be honest’ you.
When you do that you find it will so much easier to be generous to others!