This is a continuation from my previous post, “Face Your Fears”. If you haven’t read that post yet, you may want to read it before reading this one. In that post, I mentioned something from that experience in Chicago that changed the way I live my life every day.
As a small gift to myself for facing one of my biggest fears (heights) and going out on the glass Skydeck Ledge in the Willis Tower to pose for a picture, I decided I needed to buy myself a small gift in the building’s gift shop as a reminder that I faced my fear and survived it. I told people that buying that gift for myself was my equivalent of a child going to the doctor and getting a sticker or a piece of candy for being brave while getting shots. haha (FYI… needles are another one of my biggest fears. I hate them. haha)
Anyway, I had no idea what kind of gift I would end up buying myself. I wanted something small and cheap. For $3, I found a blue wristband with red letters. Written on the wristband was “Dare To Stand Out”. It was something small and cheap that I could wear anywhere, so I decided that would be my gift to myself.
The reason I was in Chicago that weekend is because the band I was traveling with at the time had shows that Thursday and Friday in Chicago, before moving on to Cincinnati on Saturday. We had the whole day free on Friday to explore Chicago, before the show started at 10:30 PM.
After an amazing day exploring the city, we arrived at the club to get ready for the show at around 10:00 PM. One of the servers that we had all gotten to know pretty well asked me what all I did that day. I quickly listed everything I was able to experience that day, and then, half-jokingly, I told her the story about buying the wristband and showed it to her. I figured she would laugh, and that would be the end of the conversation, but what happened next changed my life forever. I will never forget this as long as I live.
She looked at the wristband and read it aloud, “Dare to stand out.” She said, “You know, the words on this wristband couldn’t possibly be more perfect for you. This is who you are. Every day, you dare to stand out. I know you well enough to know that you won’t take this the wrong way, but you stand out. People notice and remember your wheelchair, and it is part of you. But you stand out without it. Your attitude, your positivity, and just the person you are… you stand out. People remember you. I hope that every time you look at this wristband, it reminds you to be yourself and reminds you to stand out. Don’t do things just because others do them. Be you. It works well for you. Stand out.”
I was stunned and didn’t know what to say. I bought this wristband mostly as a joke. I have never forgotten that conversation, and I have worn this wristband every single day since May 2nd, 2014. I will continue to wear it every day until it breaks. Once it finally breaks, I will still keep it somewhere to keep that memory alive.
It’s amazing how a different perspective can totally change things. “Dare to stand out” is the way I live my life now. I use a wheelchair for pretty much everything I do. I was born with Spina Bifida, and have always had trouble walking and keeping my balance. My whole life, people have told me that my disability would keep me from doing things that “normal” people take for granted. Well, I now teach golf. Not only that, I’m the Director of a special needs junior golf program. While in my wheelchair, I teach golf to special needs kids. How many people in my situation do that? I only know of one. I taught myself to play golf. I have a swing that is 100% unique to me. I do things my own way, because it’s the only way I know of that actually works for me. My way of doing things wouldn’t work for others. In my spare time, I hang out at Disney World by myself. Everything that I just listed… nobody does that!! Every single day when I wake up and get out of bed, I dare to stand out. People stare at me. People give me weird looks. People make comments behind my back. People are curious. People notice the things I do. Everything I do gets noticed by somebody, because it’s different. I stand out… and you know what? I have learned to love that and embrace it. People stop me and make comments or ask questions. I don’t mind it. I used to want to blend in and be “normal”. I never wanted to be the center of attention. The older I get, the more I realize that being “normal” is boring. I hope people do notice me. I hope they do remember me. I hope they take the time to talk to me and listen to what I have to say about life. I can almost guarantee they would never view life, in general, the same way again after meeting me.
There is a lesson to be learned here for everybody, this isn’t just about me. That lesson is the same… DARE TO STAND OUT!! Be yourself. Be you. Be who YOU are. Be proud. Be happy with who you are. Love yourself. Embrace whatever it is that makes you different from everyone else. Start now. You will be happier and will enjoy life more when you learn to not care what others think about you, or what they might say about you. Everyone in the world is unique. Be yourself. No one in the world is more perfect at being you than YOU!!