Justin was a short young man, standing at about 5 feet 5 inches and of medium built. He kept his full lips slightly open as if he was bored with everything around him. He had a faraway look in his eyes that gave him the impression of always being in a world of his own. He was not given to small talk and unless spoken to, he seemed quite content to keep to himself.
On this particular day, Justin was sitting on the lower step of the stairs leading up to the entry of the church hall where the neighborhood youth group gathered every Saturday for recreation which included bible study, games and music. He was holding a guitar and awkwardly strumming it as a group of young men approached him. The guitar was making terrible noises as if protesting at Justin’s poor handling. John, the leader of the youth group and one who considered himself the ‘authority’ in playing musical instruments offered to teach him a thing or two and took the guitar from his hands. Justin did not resist but for the first time, a hint of amusement flashed through his eyes though it was gone before anyone could be certain.
After showing him a basic key combination and how to hold the chords, John returned the guitar but started grumbling when Justin turned it upside down and held it in his right hand leaving the left hand free to do the strumming. The group started laughing at him and this time there was definitely a spark of delight in his otherwise somber eyes. In his usual ‘lazy’ way, he began strumming, looking not at the guitar, but at a distant point in the horizon as the laughter slowly died and in its place, a look of pure wonder and amazement formed on their faces. There was a round of applause as Justin strummed the last note. He had just given them a rousing rendition of “Great is Thy Faithfulness’’.
What John, or anyone else in the group, did not know was that Justin was left handed. His passionate love of instruments and especially the guitar had made him disregard that small ‘handicap’ and he had gone on to teach himself how to skillfully play the guitar. He was greatly talented and it was his talent that shone through his playing. As it turned out, he was also adept at playing various other instruments. What they had found him doing was his futile attempt at playing the guitar like a ‘normal’ person which was obviously impossible.
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”
― Martha Graham
Sometimes we all find ourselves in Justin’s shoes. We try so hard to suppress who we really are so that we might fit in and be considered ‘normal’. Our efforts at being normal never really bear the intended fruits and we end up looking awkward and ‘fake’. So what if, when you try to be yourself, some people get to make fun of you and most probably make you miserable for a while. “Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.” – John Jakes
Only when we become comfortable in our own skin do we allow the unique talents in us to shine and then, only then, does the world wake up and take notice. So just be you but be the very best version of yourself.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. ~Steve Jobs