If you life in Cincinnati, perhaps you are familiar with the Mushroom House AKA the Tree House. This is a very “different” house. I’ve actually seen this house from the outside and I am totally intrigued.
I’ve heard, that when it was first built, the people in the neighborhood were very upset, because it just didn’t “fit in”. It was different. It was too different.
Personally, I’m in awe of this house. I respect the fact that it dares to stand on it’s corner and say, “Look at me! I’m different, and I’m lovin’ it. I don’t fit in and am the better for it.”
What kind of house is this, anyway? It’s not a Victorian, or an Arts and Crafts, or a Mid-Century Modern. It defies classification. It just is.
We as humans are classifiers. My research tells me it’s a survival instinct. We quickly classify new things and people into safe or dangerous. Beyond that, it’s a time saver. Do I pay attention or ignore? Is it important or unimportant? Though it may be instinctual, it’s also limiting.
It limits our thinking and willingness to explore, and ask questions. It limits our opportunity to get to know others.
You can say, “Well, I’m not like that. I’m very open minded”. But I will challenge you on this.
When I say, “She’s a craftsy person.” What comes to mind? Do you envision a woman with a glue gun in a holster on her hip, and glue sticks in an ammunition belt across her chest, like a Bandito of old? Do you imagine her basement filled with baskets of glue and glitter and scraps of fabric, ready to hand make that perfect gift, for any occasion? Come on now, you know you do.
When I say, “She’s different, you know.” Do you envision a person with poor social skills, perhaps shy, maybe bookish. Someone who doesn’t quite fit in, anywhere? Or, perhaps, you see a woman dressed in flowing skirts, with bangles on her ankles and wrists who acts flighty?
I could go on, when I say, Black, White, Liberal, Conservative a picture of a certain “type” of person pops into your head. It’s classifying. It’s a human trait. It’s what we do. And it’s OK, to a point.
That point is when our classifying limits others from reaching their full potential.
When I was 5 years old I was allowed to go out into the neighborhood to play with the other kids. There were 6-8 of us, boys and girls, between the ages of 5 and 9. I was the youngest, by 4 months, and I was the only one without a sibling in the group.
We played well together, until the summer before my first grade year. That summer, Vickie, moved into the neighborhood. Vickie was going to be a third grader. Vickie was a “mean girl”. I was her victim.
She was good at what she did. Suck us in with offers of adventure, and then when everyone was lined up and ready to go, she would look at me and say, “Not you. You can’t play. You’re too little. You’re just a baaabeee.” In other words, “You’re different. You don’t fit in.” She found my weakness and she used it to inflict pain.
I went home crying many, many days that summer. My Mom would try to shore me up with sayings like, “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” That’s just a lie. Words do hurt. In fact, words can leave a very deep scar that can affect the rest of ones life.
I must decide just how these words will affect the rest of my life. Will they hold me back or spur me forward?
I have been told many times during my lifetime that I am “different.” When I ask for specifics I get vague answers, like, “You see the world differently, than most.” What is that? Is that good or bad? If you’ve got the balls to tell me I’m “different”, at least have the wherewith all to explain what you mean. Help me out here. I’m just trying to fit in. Or am I?
Our history is filled with people who just didn’t fit in. Socrates, Jesus,
DaVince, Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King, Steven Jobs among hundreds of others. None of these people fit into the society of their day. They were all “different”, and look at what they were able to accomplish in their life time. Just think of how our world would be changed if these people had tried to fit in, instead of ignoring the out cries from the public for their heads and moving forward with their life’s mission. We would have no Philosophy, or Christianity, no painting of The Last Supper, no libraries, no civil rights, and no iPhone 4, among many, many, many, other contributions we would be missing from each one of these people.
I think, I like being “different”. I think, I like being able to view the world from a different perspective, than most. So I don’t always fit in. I need to focus on the contributions I have yet to make to the world, and not let what an eight year old mean girl said to me, 45 years ago, affect my efforts.
I’m different ,and I am better for it.
Tiny Change 22: Celebrate my differences by smiling at every one I interact with.
Perhaps my smile can help undo the damage done by a mean girl in someone’s past.
For more photos of the Mushroom House visit: