Have you ever felt like you didn't fit in?
Have you ever tried to join the popular group and they wouldn't accept you?
Maybe you've been called a freak or a weirdo...
If you haven't experienced these, you might know someone else who has, or you may know a child going through this now.
What if I told you, that being a misfit or a reject or an outcast or just plain weird... is GREAT?
Do you believe me?
Well it is, because people who are deemed as different can go on to achieve great things with their lives, and because of their difference, are remembered.
Think of these people - Lady GaGa, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Billie Eilish, Graham Kennedy.
These people come to mind because they are unique individuals who stand out for their clothing, their face, their intellect, their disability or talent.
Research says that we remember people who are different because upon seeing them and having a reaction, there is a release of dopamine in our brains, and our brain searches to see if it already holds a copy of the person we have seen. If we've never seen a person like them, they go into our long-term memory.
I've met many people from my childhood who remember me because of my craniofacial syndrome, though I do not remember them. And my pink vision cane is now making me memorable. I've always been a misfit.
As a child I was labelled a 'grotesque deformity' by the Australian Women's Weekly, 'Googly eyes', 'Frankenstein', 'Elephant Man' and other cruel names by the kids at school. I was pushed over, rejected and left until last to be chosen for games and dancing. Out in public I was laughed at, pointed at, made fun of and stared at.
I can tell many stories, and when I come to your school, church or organisation, I will. One story I vividly remember occurred when I was 4 or 5 years old. My mother had taken me into Brisbane for a doctor's appointment. Afterwards we went shopping. I always wore my best Sunday dresses into the city, so I looked pretty smart. My hair was brushed and pulled back from my face, tied with bobbles. My shoes were polished and shiny. We were in Myer and to get to the floor that Mum wanted to go to, we had to take the escalator. I loved the escalators in the big department stores, as we didn't have them in the small country town where I grew up. At the bottom of the escalators was a group of teenage boys. Mum didn't take too much notice of them. She'd been a high school teacher. As we reached the escalator one of the lads caught sight of me and it started... 'Hey look at that kid's face!' 'Oh my god, she's so ####### ugly!' 'Hahahahaha' and so. The things they were saying were too vulgar to write here, and my mother in her distress and wanting to protect me from their viciousness, yanked me up the escalator as fast as she could, to get away from them. That was my childhood.
A major facial surgery at the age of 18, helped me to blend in, but I still felt like a misfit, and I could only see my face as it was growing up. I struggled with anxiety and depression, and trying to find my place in my workplace, which I never really did. Now I have a pink vision cane which makes me stand out like I did as a child.
From growing up a freak, a weirdo, I have developed a range of mindsets which have stood me in good stead to overcome adversities and challenges. I also have faith in Jesus.
I would love to come and share with your school, church or organisation, my Be Weirdly Wonderful! mindsets, and also to share some stories about growing up with a craniofacial syndrome, and living with a visual impairment. I can also talk on my striving and advocating to give my daughter who has Down syndrome, an ordinary life.
I will impart positive tips to your students, and adults. These are embedded into the following three messages:
* Just be yourself
* Embrace your differences
* Be a victor not a victim
Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone me on 0419704803 to talk more.