I guess I have always been a bit different than most. And I knew that growing up. Come kindergarten during roll call when you had to rhyme something with your name, I was always stuck wordless and embarrassed. Tierney. Nothing rhymes with Tierney. “What a weird name,” they’d say.
I still have the image of my teacher yelling at me for pushing a boy to the ground in the first grade because he so rudely was blocking my desk, only to make a mockery of me. How crazy of me to act violently as a little girl.
In the 4th grade the principal announced, in front of the entire cafeteria, that I was the best flag football receiver, even among all the boys who played. How crazy am I to think I could be better at a boy’s sport than a boy?
At age 15 I chose to travel to Puerto Rico on my own to embark on a summer long community service trip. How crazy to travel alone at such a young age to an unfamiliar place with no friends or family at my side.
My senior year of high school I applied to seven colleges. I had only visited one of them, University of Nevada, Reno and it was the one school I knew I did not want to attend. I chose to attend Purdue University never having seen the campus, never having traveled to the Midwest, and most certainly having no idea where the hell West Lafayette, IN was. How crazy am I to decide my fate of the next four years based on a gut feeling?
Before graduating from Purdue I had always known I would take a year off to travel. Upon May 2013 I committed to working in Australia as an au pair for a family I had only e-mailed a handful of times and met on Skype twice. How crazy am I to: A) fly across the world to live with and work for a family I don’t know and in a place I have never been and B) to skip out on the professional opportunities offered directly after college to set myself up for a stable career?
It wasn’t until after my travels that I realized how much I missed my friends and life in the Midwest. I now took the time I have as a young, single, independent individual to move to Chicago. To see what this great city holds and how it can teach me to continue to grow while surrounding myself with those who make me a better person. Yet, how crazy am I to move to Chicago in the middle of February with no job lined up?
I am crazy.
Crazy to jump off a 440-foot platform over rock canyon, crazy to have traveled alone, to have never had a stable relationship, to fall out of a plane, to always volunteer for karaoke, to love Vegemite, to want to see the best in people even at their worst, crazy to lift weights like a dude, for dancing like no one is watching, for always speaking my mind, and for genuinely wishing everyone was as crazy as me.
I know I make unpredictable choices. Safety and comfort are not my forte. I don’t accept the narrow path to victory and I don’t see why I or anyone else should. When I heard Graham Moore’s speech at the Oscars this past week about how one should stay weird, I couldn’t stop to think I want that. Not exactly to be onstage winning an Oscar, but to have something extraordinary happen. I walk down the street and I see strangers carrying on their casual daily routines and I think, “What is the greatness that they will hold upon this world?” “What prominence will he or she have in their lifetime?” “Are they content with work in, work out, eat, sleep, marry, have a family, grow old, pass on?” Because I am telling this to you right now, I am not. I am NOT okay with being just anyone and doing just anything. I want to be spectacular because it is what we are capable of being. I enjoy living differently. It makes me believe there is so much more beyond this big world than what the blinders on our eyes have us focused on.
You don’t have to jump off ledges, travel to New Zealand, or have a strange name to see what I see. You just have to stop letting the thoughts of others and the expectations of society fear you out of becoming legendary. BE DIFFERENT. Seriously. There will be enough robots come 2040, until then don’t try to look like J.Lo (it can’t be done), continue to learn as the world is changing each day you should be too, don’t do the exact same routine 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, and for goodness sake create a voice that doesn’t echo your parents’. You can indefinitely appreciate them, but you don’t have to become exactly like them.
Approval from others is not going to make your ambitions come true, or that crush fall in love with you. Being desperate for admiration is someone else’s stepping stone to success, and you don’t even realize it. When you allow one to steal your integrity, you close your own doors to chances and opportunities that otherwise may never open. The decisions you make in life should reflect what you believe in.
Continue listening to weird music. Walk into the black crowd wearing the bright yellow boots. Dye your hair blue—you can change it later. Audition for the play your classmates say is lame. Book a one-way ticket. Apply for the job you’re technically underqualified for but know you could be spectacular at. Do the crazy. Be crazy.
Let being different be the fuel for your creativity.
You might surprise yourself. And who doesn’t love surprises?