The Importance of Being Weird: On Never Apologizing for Your Dreams

February 25, 2015

If you ask a group of little kids what they want to be when they grow up, the answers will strengthen your imagination:

Pro Soccer Player

Police Man

Bus Driver

Singer

Cheerleader

Mom

Astronaut

Artist

Dunkin Donuts worker [no? just me? okay…]

 

If you ask a group of college students what they want to be when they grow up, the answers seem a little more focused a little less, well, idealistic:

Parole Officer

Biologist

Physical Therapist

Communications Specialist

History teacher

Doctor

Social Service Worker

Lawyer

International Businessman

 

I wonder what causes the shift. I was on Facebook earlier today when I read the following quote by Sarah Silverman, a comedian, writer, and actress who often takes on controversial topics in an ironic and profound way. The excerpt reads:

 

“Stop telling girls they can be anything they want when they grow up. It’s a mistake. Not because they can’t, but because it would have never occurred to them they couldn’t.”

 

I found my head fervently shaking with agreement as I hit the end quotation mark. This quote is applicable to all the fellows out there as well. When we were younger, you never questioned if you would be able to make that jump on your bicycle. You just tried it. Because you knew you could.

 

Yet as we grow up, we seem to get this sense of wondering if we can.

 

“Is it too unrealistic to want to be a singer? Maybe I should just be a music teacher and continue to sing on the side.”

 

What changed from the aspirations of your youth until now? What made you suddenly think you weren’t capable?

 

This past Sunday, the 23rd, I was watching the 87th Annual Academy Awards with my roommates whilst catching up on some work from the weekend. As I glanced back and forth between my books and the television, I only heard snippets of speeches. That was, until Graham Moore took the stage.

 

Graham Moore won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game, a film that portrays the life of cryptanalyst Alan Turing and his fellow mathematicians as they break codes at Great Britain’s Government Code and Cypher School during World War II.

 

After dedicating the award to Alan Turing, the man on whom the movie was based, Moore dove into a personal story of his own:

 

“When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong. And now I'm standing here and so I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she's weird or she's different or she doesn't fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird, stay different. And then when it's your turn and you're standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along.”

 

This is encouragement. This is a talented young man standing before an audience of millions sharing his life with us if only for a moment. Perhaps it would be strange to hear a 30-year-old announce their desire to become a cheerleader. But in reality how different is that from an 18-year-old who is entering law school or an 8-year-old who just had their first day at soccer camp and is convinced that soccer will become their life.

 

This blog goes out to dreams. No matter how crazy and wonderful they are, no matter how weird or different they seem, follow them. Go after them with unbounded passion and drive and I promise you, you will get to right where you need to be.

 

Stay weird, Smilers…and pass it on.

 

Love always,

Liz

 

 

 

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