Step 1 of ODDER Being: Own Your Uniqueness

Living your best life starts with accepting who you are

by | Dec 11, 2023

A bowl with the word You on it, a shelf with different pots (every single one containing a character trait) and a pot with the trait 'Doesn't like surprises' open, sprinkling into the bowl.

 In the 3rd grade of high school [1] , I had to declare my major and extra subjects, with at  least 1 classical language: either Latin or Ancient Greek. Truthfully, I’ve always preferred Ancient Greek. I loved our teacher, with his dry humor, and I loved how the grammar actually made sense (sorry, Latin). I was the only one in our grade. Out of the twenty-something students, not a single one picked Ancient Greek. And even though by then I had firmly established myself as a misfit, I still didn’t feel like choosing Greek was an option. So despite my personal preferences, I checked “Latin” on the major form.

It took me about a year (and a lot of cutting class) to accept that I genuinely, passionately hated Latin. Luckily, my dean still allowed me to switch to Greek. 

I wish I could say I took the lesson to heart and never again made choices that didn’t work for me personally, but I’d be lying. These days, I’m doing better. Not perfect, but better. My life is far from conventional, and I’m doing the things that work for me. And the main reason why I founded Odder Being is because I want to help others who are stuck in that place of knowing the life the live doesn’t quite fit them and are slowly coming to the realization that it’s alright to turn things around.

Being different is… normal

ODDER is actually an acronym, and today we’ll talk about the O: Owning who you are.

Here’s the problem: we are naturally creatures of imitation. Monkey sees, monkey does. Instinctively, we tend to make choices we see around us (this is why it’s so hard to truly break free from your background). It’s what we consider ‘normal’, and ‘normal’ quickly becomes ‘the right thing to do’. If everyone around you goes to church, it’s likely initially you will, too. The same applies if everyone around you goes to college, or gets married, or lives in the suburbs. For all of our cries of individuality, we often struggle to truly be ourselves (as witnessed by my Latin fiasco).

But just because there’s a majority with common choices, doesn’t mean we’re all equal. And it certainly doesn’t mean that all (or any) parts of your cultural ‘normal’ should work for you.

Owning who you are starts by embracing the fact that you are unique. Not the special snowflake variety of being unique. Being one of a kind. Sure, you share traits with others, but there is not a single person with whom you share every single one of them. No matter how much you have in common, there are always differences. And these differences may mean that your dream life won’t look quite the same as theirs.

To accommodate for this, every life needs to be designed for the unique person living it. Your life needs to be designed for you, by you.

 

Try This

Here’s a quick exercise to help you get clear on your unique traits:

  1. Write down at least 5 parts of your identity: who you feel you are. Do this by finishing this sentence: I’m a … / I’m an… / I’m … (so for me, this might look like “I’m Dutch, I’m a woman, I’m neurodivergent, I’m an entrepreneur, I’m polyamorous”). 
  2. For every part, think of groups who share the same identity aspect (so in my case, other Dutch people, other women, and so on). Write down what traits, values, interests, and life choices you share with most people in these groups.
  3. Now, write down in what way your traits, values, interests, and life choices are different from theirs.

For me, this is what it might look like:

  1. I’m an entrepreneur.
  2. When I think about most of the other entrepreneurs I know, I share their creativity and craving for freedom.
  3. I’m different from most entrepreneurs in that I’m probably more risk-averse, and less money-driven.

You’ve now completed the first step of choosing an ODDER life, Owning who you are. In the next step, we’re going to focus on the D of Designing your tailor-made life. 

[1] In the Dutch schooling system, which I was part of, you’re 14-15 years old (comparable with Freshman year in the US, I think?)