When you own it, some strangeness can impress and intrigue.
Look around you.
Most people do their best to conform and fit in…
Like it’s a good thing.
But when it comes to being memorable or attractive, blending in spells certain death.
When I studied abroad in Israel, I joined a group of 500 students from all over the world, all excited to establish our places socially. In the first few days, cliques formed and a few beautiful, alpha females and loud, good-looking alpha males, started rising to the top of the social hierarchy.
When the alphas got together, they wore tight shirts and used very loud (sometimes drunk) voices. I tried to meet people across all different groups to see who I liked.
I had accidentally enrolled in a Hebrew language class that was way too advanced for me. Instead of learning basic words, this class was already working on advanced storytelling. I felt like an alien. I ended up saying really weird phrases, but owning the fact that I probably sounded ridiculous. This may have come off as independent and creative, I have no idea. Interestingly, I started getting a lot of attention from the other students.
On the weekends, I sometimes disappeared from the group as my cousins showed me around Israel. As I got immersed in the culture, I started dressing, talking, eating, and acting like the locals. I’d come back to the group, tanned and full of great stories. They listened, eager as I shared tips about the best hotspots around us. I was unknowingly leading, and I started holding very strong eye contact, which Israelis are accustomed to.
For an unknown reason I also started to use darker humor, something we now teach in the Jaunty course.
I quickly realized that almost everyone wanted to hang out with me, including the alpha females. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone. I was just exploring, experimenting, and doing what was interesting to me. It turned out my being a bit different was interesting to a lot of other people too.
When was the last time you did something a bit different or strange?
You know, something that you did because it made you happy, even if it went against the grain?
At least twice a year, I take a random trip somewhere… alone.
This year I went to New York alone and also participated in a networking event for founders called StartupBus, from Seattle to Texas. Last year was Nashville and Vegas.
Why travel alone? Wouldn’t I have more fun with a friend?
Well, traveling alone forces me to create the experience that I want, meet new people, and even get into extra fun trouble. I can focus on my environment and always learn a lot about myself.
Kids, try this at home.
This month check out an art opening, go to a sporting event or just take a hike somewhere by yourself. Put yourself out there, talk to strangers and let me know how it goes.
Since it’s the start of a new school year, think back on some of your first few weeks at school while you were growing up. How did you establish yourself socially? What would you do now to either be yourself or try to fit in? Think about the kids you admired in your schools and what they did to stand out.