Everything I ever needed to know about self-acceptance, I could have learned from a 5-year old.
My friend, Laura, has a beautiful little boy named Logan. Last September, Logan had school pictures. Being a diligent and attentive mother, Laura planned for this day and lovingly put together a nice outfit for him, even setting it out so it would be ready for Logan to put when the morning came.
School picture day came, and Logan dressed for school. He happily and proudly came out of his room and excitedly announced, “It’s my most handsome outfit!”
His handsome outfit was not, actually, what Laura had picked out. It was colorful, and bright, and had a couple different types of plaid. Now, Laura could have asked him to change. After all, a child only gets his kindergarten school pictures taken once, and this photo will live on for years. But Laura is a spectacular mom, and she cares more about her child than she does about perfectly put together photos on her mantel. Besides, she clearly recognized a Most Handsome Outfit when she saw one. So, she kept her mouth shut, she drove her child to school, and in about a month she got this amazing picture to keep forever.
I wish I had a Most Handsome Outfit like Logan’s. More to the point, I wish I had the courage to express myself the way he does, with unabashed jubilation and unapologetic glee. I’d like to be able to wear plaid with plaid and hop on a scooter to start my day.
So what’s stopping me?
We live in an interesting time. It used to be normal for families to listen to one radio program together, or to watch one television show before bed every night. We used to have to settle for what one or two news anchors told us was the news for the day. Now, we have hundreds of television channels, thousands of radio stations, dozens of news anchors, hundreds of political correspondents, and millions of individuals sharing their thoughts on everything from affirmative action to the proper way to slice a birthday cake online, on our mobile devices, in town squares and in local coffee shops. Technology has expanded our universe, and in doing so, it has increased the potential for vibrancy. Our media sources used to have to choose programming that had the broadest appeal – or in other words, programming which had the least likely chance to offend anyone. Everything was watered down. Safe. Now, people are creating their own blogs and podcasts and YouTube channels. We have more access to more information and opinions than Walter Cronkite ever could have dreamed about. We can seek out things that make us feel alive, rather than settle for things that the average person can be just “okay” with.
I like to tell my children that they are amazingly exceptional and extraordinarily unique – just like everyone else. Our individuality is something to celebrate in ourselves, and to appreciate in others. We can appreciate the vibrancy in another person precisely because we have it inside of ourselves, too.
We don’t need to, and absolutely should not, water ourselves down to be acceptable for the masses. No one needs a watered down version of ourselves. There are already plenty of vanilla cookies out there, and choosing to hide our unique attributes only makes us disappear and deprives the world of the distinctive gifts that only we can offer.
We don’t have to wear the outfit that our mom put out for ourselves. We can choose our own Most Handsome Outfits.
This blog is my Most Handsome Outfit. It’s an expression of who I am, what I think and how I feel. It’s opened up important conversations in my life. It’s connected me to people I thought I had nothing in common with. It’s made me realize that my ordinariness is nothing ordinary at all.
What is your Most Handsome Outfit?