A few weeks ago I went snowboarding in Park City, Utah. Am I good? I suppose for someone who goes once every few years, was born with hyper-flexible legs, and has been described as “floppy” I can hold my own. Rather, I was holding my own until day two when I fell and saw my ankle snap. Yes, saw. I had a white flash moment where the pain was so acute I had X-Ray access to my internals and actually witnessed the damage as it was being done.
While the rest of my group glided into the lift line for another run, I limped to the parking lot–board in hand, pride beneath my heavy boot. Oh, and I cried. I did. I was so over being the one with the mysterious bruise or sliding knee-cap, the one who still can’t do a cartwheel or a handstand without a wall. The first one injured and the last one healed.
Once I got to the car I forced myself to stop crying. I had no choice. Mom always said, “You have five minutes to cry and feel sorry for yourself. After that, dry your eyes and make things better.” So I slid on my cozy boots, grabbed my journal, and went to the restaurant. It was crowded so I put our name on the list for lunch and wrote while I waited for everyone to return.
When the group came off the slopes they were cold and hungry and way too cranky to wait forty-five minutes for a table. Lucky for them they didn’t have to. The moment they arrived we were seated, thanks to me.
And that’s when it struck me. There will always be times in your life when you can’t keep up with the group, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring something to the table. It just means you have to find another way to make yourself useful. And there’s always a way. For example:
Hate drinking but you hang with the party crowd? Be the designated driver. (They’ll LOVE you.)
Can’t snowboard but all your friends do? Shoot the video. (Note: this applies for almost every sport except maybe jogging. In which case meet your friends at the finish line with a bottle of water and join them for the cool down.)
You’re the only single one in the group? Don’t be a downer just because your dream guy hasn’t found you yet. Have fun. Become a wardrobe stylist. Help them pick out date outfits and do their hair.
Not a fan of boy bands but your friends are obsessed? Make mash-ups… your favorites and theirs. The heads of your favorites on the bodies of theirs. Playlists that include everyone’s obsessions. Or hit music festivals where there’s something for everyone. If none of the above works, try earplugs.
My point is instead of hating yourself for not being like everyone else, make your differences work for you… and them. Our true value lies in our individuality, not our similarities. Now stop that crying and go make yourself matter.