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March 25, 2013

Lisa Madras: What’s your special gift? Share it, don’t hide it!

NEW CASTLE — What makes you so special?

It cracks me up to hear this question, because when it's generally asked, there's more than a bit of snark involved.

"What makes YOU so special?" is the childish chant of many an offended person to the individual getting some sort of perceived privilege. What makes me chuckle about it is the response I've used (if only inside my head) since I first heard this query in the second grade: "Well, I'm smarter than you, for starters."

Yeah, I know I'm gonna get a lot of poo-poo from everyone I know about saying that, but I said it nonetheless. I'm smart. So there. Not Van Gogh cut-your-own-ear-off insane smart or anything. Smart enough to be tortured, but not smart enough to do anything about it. Let's say, just a little smarter than the average bear.

I became good at hiding this fact very early on in life because I immediately got a cold dose of "nobody likes a smarty pants" the very first time I used a word that my peers hadn't heard before. After several more attempts at winning friends and influencing people with my intellect, I realized that even if Dale Carnegie was OK with sitting alone on the school bus, I really wasn't.

Flash forward to adulthood, and the commonly-used phrase became, "It's INTIMIDATING dating a smart woman." Seriously, dude? I can do your taxes and change the oil in your car and you find that to be UNappealing? OK, whatever. Go away, brain, you're not welcome here.

Now admit it: you're thinking about how arrogant I am. I know it's not nice to brag, but that wasn't my point. What I'm trying to say is that there's something special about all of us. Maybe you have a beautiful singing voice. Maybe you're a star athlete. Perhaps your gift is communicating with aliens.

No matter what it is, you'll have people that dislike you for it. The thing is, that's their problem — don't let them make it yours. As the saying goes: Not your circus.  Not your monkeys.

It never ceases to amaze me that when you find out someone has a special talent, and you ask them to show you, their response is so often, "Aw, no. It's embarrassing." Where did that embarrassment come from?

Ah, yes, from the finger-pointing critics of the schoolyard playground. Please don't listen to the haters, people. The world isn't a playground. It's a stage. YOUR stage.

So rock it, rock star.

And the next time someone asks you what makes you so special — yep, go ahead and tell them.

 

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