It has been awhile since I have shared from a book I have read. A book I finished last week called: “Unabrow: Misadventures of a Late Bloomer” by Una LaMarche was one of the better, more humorous books I have read in a while. The cover is classic. An early childhood photo of LaMarche with a unibrow. Such a clever title for a memoir, for someone who started early on in life having an actual unibrow. It spurred a conversation at work, if your very young child had very dark hair and a unibrow, would you do something about it, or let them get teased? Such a tough decision. You do not want them to think about their body, vanity, and waxing at such a young age, but if they are endlessly teased, what would you do?
LaMarche is hilarious. She covers a plethora of topics, from Barbies, to the etiquette for selecting which stall/toilet to go to in a bathroom, and which one is the “poop stall,” to Girl Scout cookies, I love this quote — how many of us wish we could just get our Girl Scout cookie fix via Amazon Prime (anytime of year).
“Yes, that’s right. Anyone can log onto this website to locate young girls anywhere in the country, and yet I cannot get my Tagalong fix using Amazon Prime shipping.” Page 184
I can relate to some aspects of LaMarche’s childhood. School was sometimes awkward. Maybe we all had a time growing up when life sucked, or when we maybe just did not fit in. For me it happened often throughout the years prior to college. Whether it was because of being poor and having hand-me-downs, or in not relating to my peers. We all probably had some sort of awkward stage growing up. Maybe we got that funky haircut, or went through a strange phase in how we dressed or what we thought was fun. Which is why I related to LaMarche:
“Because being loud about it is the only way that I know how to find other members of my tribe: yet-to-peak former outcasts with the dreaded ‘good personality’ of the previously homely. I just don’t feel safe otherwise. I mean, I can’t trust anyone who never had an awkward phase in high school. Those people are the real freaks.” Page 13
If you want to laugh, pick up Unabrow. I can assure you a cackle will escape your mouth. I had many dog-eared pages that I read to Chris to share her fun rants. Bathroom humor, childhood awkwardness, Amazon Prime for Tagalongs. All in good fun.
“Say what you want to say.” I love this line from a Saturday Night Live skit. How many times in life do we say what people want to hear? Do you want to go out with me? Inside you are saying: “I am too tired, you bore me, I just need some time to myself.” Instead of being honest with others, we say yes, we go, and sometimes we wish we had just stood up for ourselves and said no. This skit shows how exhilarating it would be if we just said what we were really thinking.
Do you feel invigorated after watching? While I am someone who is more often than not going to tell you no and be completely blunt and direct about it. However, even for me there are times when it feels awkward, or when it feels like it is the right thing to do to say yes and go along with things. Usually when we are in those situations we feel how wrong our decision was and that we should have listened to our gut the first time. It is better for us all to: “Say what you want to say” rather than say what we think others want to hear.
There have been a few situations in the past few weeks that have irked me. Like being put in an uncomfortable situation where I had to take a stand for myself, where the other individuals were only thinking about themselves (or so it feels). Ever happen to you? I am sure it happens to all of us from time to time.
How we handle it is what matters most.
Do we react, get mad, get frustrated? Maybe. And that is okay. Do we show our true colors to the individuals that tick us off? Well, maybe. It depends. Can we do it with grace or do we add to the mix, stir the pot, and make the situation even worse? To me, making the situation worse shows our weakness. Instead, we should clearly and succinctly share where we are coming from and be transparent, open and honest. What gets me the most though is when others involved watch as by-standers never do anything. In some ways they could be accomplices to the situation and, by not taking a stand for us, they are no better than those that have wronged us. They shake their head and say, “Oh, it is just the way they are. There is no changing them.” What if (go with me for a second on this) they took a stand for us and said, “You are putting him in an awkward situation. This is not the way to treat them.”
I think of it often at work. I think of those on my team as part of my fold. I stick up for them and always keep their best interests in mind. I would not throw them to the wolves and hope they can fend for themselves. Yes, they must have strong skin and resilience, but I will not stand by and watch if they are put in awkward situations. I will see what I can do to help. The same is true for family and friends. Maybe others are not thinking of the situation they are putting others in and maybe I over think the situation I put others in. Either way, we could all be more conscious of how we treat others. Are we asking too much of them? Are we thinking about their situation? Are we asking of their time in ways that are not fair? Other people’s time is precious… do you care about it?
A surprisologist. I like it. I am probably the worst person to be called a surprisologist. One year for Chris’ birthday I planned a trip to San Francisco. As it got closer to the trip I could not contain the surprise, I just had to tell him. Partly I wanted him to be able to get excited by our trip and start to think about whether there were any special places he might want to go, and partly I just could not contain my surprise any longer. How did I break the news to him? I told him I wanted him to open a birthday gift early, and I wrapped a box of Rice-a-Roni “a San Francisco treat” and asked if he could guess his gift. I no longer remember his face or response, but let me just let you know the moral is I am not good with surprises.
I recently read a Ted blog about a woman (Tania Luna) who is a surprisologist. She has started a company called Surprise Industries and well let’s just say she has me curious. One of the things she lists in the TED blog is how we always surround ourselves with what is comfortable, with people we know, and that we rarely break outside of our comfort zone and find ways to meet new people (and well get excited about it).
What could you do that would add a little surprise to your life? Maybe it is a little thing to surprise your spouse or kids once in a while, or maybe it is adding flavor to how you engage with others. Take that belly dancing class, hip hop, or heck, go country line dancing. In this quote from the article, Luna tells us that surprises can teach us to grow and reach:
“Few people follow their dreams or take positive risks — not because it’s difficult or even scary, but because we avoid that sensation of uncertainty that we call awkwardness. Learn to love it. Remind yourself that discomfort means you are growing AND reaching someplace special that few people dare to go. Try a hobby that looks awful. Talk to a stranger.”
I would lose count of the number of people who avoid awkwardness. Who likes feeling awkward? However, feeling awkward could lead to feeling brave. Feeling brave can lead you to feeling badass. Who does not want to feel badass? I am not saying you have to go pet snakes if they freak you out. Maybe just go introduce yourself to a stranger at your next charity function or company picnic. I know I have work to do. Whether or not I can keep a surprise inside, I could definitely add some flavor to the surprise I bring to my world. What about you?