Why and How to Stop Trying to Be Normal and Just Be Who You Are

Stop Trying to Be "Normal" and Be Who You Really AreEveryone knows there’s no such thing as “normal.” We keep pursuing it anyway.

I’m not even going to talk about the futility of that pursuit, because there is a far, far better reason that you should stop trying to be normal.

I’ll tell you that reason in a minute, but first I want to tell you a story.

Once, while talking with a woman who made her living as a therapist, I said, “I can write 500 basic words on just about any topic in under 20 minutes. If it’s a topic I already know I can write 500 words in 7 minutes.”

She looked simply amazed and said, “Wow. Wow. Just wow.”

Now, to me, that’s not that big a deal. I do that every day.

Sit down with a patient with a mental illness and serious emotional issues going on right now in front of me? And then do something to make them feel better? No. I can’t do that. I wouldn’t want to try.

But I also happen to know that this therapist loves gardening. She can grow anything.

I can grow a cactus if someone else takes care of it.

If my friend suddenly decided that writing was “normal” or that not growing plants was “normal,” that What if she also decided that it was important for her to conform to this idea of “normal”?

She might stop seeing patients. She might stop raising her garden.

Or if I care too much about being normal, I might decide writing is not normal and stop doing it.

Here’s the reason I mentioned earlier…

If we both gave up what we love because they weren’t “normal” enough, two things would happen.

First, her patients wouldn’t get help and my readers wouldn’t have anything to read.

Second, we’d both be incredibly unhappy, deprived of following our passions.

And that’s why. That’s why you absolutely have to stop trying to be normal. Because you’re not normal. No one is, but your creativity and energy and curiosity and energy and passions make you special. There are not that many of us Leonardos in most parts of the world. We need to be ourselves because who we are is important. Our creativity serves the world.

And here’s the how…

There are five things you can do to stop trying to be normal and just be who you are. They work better if you do all five.

  1. Accept that “normal” doesn’t exist, or that it is at best a normal target—there is no there, there. There’s nothing for you to “be.”
  2. Ask yourself if you’re doing, being and having what you thought you would at this time in your life.
  3. Then ask yourself if you’re doing, being and having what you want, for now and looking forward.

3a. If the answer to number 3 is yes, your job is to keep doing what you’re doing.

3b. If the answer is no, your job is to determine what you want.

  1. Determine what normal looks like for you. It’s helpful to find people doing what you want to do/are doing and figure out what normal looks like for them, then adjust that.
  2. When you find yourself trying to act like a “normal person,” switch your thinking to act like a “normal you.”

What challenges do you face with the idea of normal and the reality of being who you are?

How The Leonardo Trait Solves the Problems of “Too Creative” and “Too Weird”

The Leonardo Trait Solves the Problem of "Too Creative" and "Too Weird" - The Leonardo Trait - Angie DixonIf anyone has ever said you’re too creative, or that your creativity and quick brain make you too weird, they were telling their own truth. But it wasn’t the truth, and you don’t have to make it your truth.

What the Problem Isn’t

The problem actually is not that you are “too creative” or “too weird.” I can prove this.

Is there now, or has there ever been, one person in your life who thought you were great and didn’t complain that you were “too” creative or weird or anything else? You were just great?

I know you’ve had someone in your life who thought you were fine the way you are. Even better than fine.

And if even one person, even for one moment, thought you were great or even just okay the way you are, then the problem can’t be you.

Because, you see, if the problem were you, everyone would notice the problem.

The Surprising Answer to “What Is the Problem?”

Now you expect me to tell you that the problem is the people who do think you’re “too weird” or “too creative” or “too” anything else.

Actually, that’s not it, either.

Remember I said that they’re speaking their own truth?

They’re not the problem, in and of themselves.

The problem is that our society doesn’t have a place for people with creative, quirky, imaginative brains—for Leonardos.

So when some people look at you and see that your brain doesn’t work the way their brains work, they think there’s something wrong with you.

That’s a pretty reasonable conclusion, actually. It’s painful as hell when you’re on the receiving end of it, but it’s reasonable if you don’t know what I know and what you now know.

But Here’s the Truth. The truth.

People don’t have identical brains.

We just don’t.

I’m not a neuroscientist, but I can say with certainty that no two people have identical brains—not even identical twins, because our brains change constantly as we learn things and experience things.

So Here’s Where The Leonardo Trait Solves The Problem Of “Too Creative” And “Too Weird.”

You’re not “too creative” because there is no such thing. And you’re not weird. You’re different. You know that. But what you may not know is that you’re different in a good way. In fact, you’re different in a really good way.

Your creativity, your two speeds, fast and stop, your boundless creativity, your multiple passions that encompass everything in your world at times and your galloping curiosity—those things make you a Leonardo.

It’s Okay That You’re Different Because…

If you’re like me, you’ve felt different and left out your entire life. Always. I first noticed it when I was about four. It never went away, until I discovered the concept of the Leonardo Trait.

Even then, at first I thought I was just making up an elaborate set of excuses for what was wrong with me.

Then I met the first person who ever read my book and said, “I’m a Leonardo.” Then another one. Then another one.

We feel different and left out because there are not that many of us, compared to all of the people who are not Leonardos.

You Need to Know What You Are

You know what they call something when there aren’t many of that thing and there are a lot of not-that-thing?

They call it rare.

They call it special.

They call it important.

I call it the Leonardo Trait.

You Know You’re a Leonardo When…

You Know You're a Leonardo When...In the interest of full disclosure I just want to say that no one has ever asked me if they’re a Leonardo. People just seem to know.

But just in case, here are seven good indicators:

1. You have two speeds – fast and stop.

2. You saw the cover of The Leonardo Trait and thought, “I need that” – and you meant the Trait, not the book.

3. Even if you have never accidentally refinished a piece of furniture, you understand how that can happen.

4. You have said yes without hearing the entire question at least once… in the last six months.

5. If you have a project going, something is wrong – you need at least half a dozen projects to be happy.

6. You’re curious about everything.

7. Creativity is not something you do. It’s something you are.

If any or all of this sounds familiar, congratulations. You’re not weird. You’re a Leonardo.

What is The Leonardo Trait and Why Should You Care?

What is The Leonardo Trait and Why Should You Care? - Angie Dixon

What the Heck is a Leonardo Trait?

This post started as “A Brief Introduction to The Leonardo Trait, but that is so not me as to be someone else entirely.

So this is what I wanted to say, but didn’t say very well in my original post, which I of course trashed.

Why Should You Care?

Were you always creative?

I was.

Were you also always weird?

I was. I remember in sixth grade drawing a (very good) illustration of a slice of bread hanging on the wall in a museum. Well, okay, it was just a slice of bread in a square that represented a museum wall. But it was a darn fine piece of bread.

Have you ever been called crazy because you were “too” creative?

I have. The last time that happened my “offense” was coming up with several very effective and actionable marketing ideas for a nonprofit I had volunteered to help. The problem was that I came up with all of those ideas in one day, and the director of the nonprofit didn’t want to “get involved with someone like” me.

I swore that would never happen to me again. And it didn’t.

For the next year no one called me crazy for being too creative because I hid my creativity and tried to be “normal.”

The Leonardo Trait is Born

Then on March 25, 2006, I was visiting my best friend for the weekend and she asked what I was reading. I told her about a couple of books on creativity that I had hope to love but didn’t. We talked about what I think creativity is and how it works.

And I said, “There’s this…I don’t know, a trait, maybe several traits…Let’s call it the Leonardo Trait. Really creative people are different and just don’t understand why that’s not a bad thing.”

Those may not have been my exact words, but that’s the gist of it. Unfortunately no one knew we should be recording me for posterity.

My best friend said, after I finished describing this “Leonardo Trait,” that I should write a book about that. So I did, and then I wrote it again and again.

The current edition is called The Leonardo Trait: How Creative People Can Turn Creative Eccentricity into a Life You Love.

So What Exactly Is this Leonardo Trait, then?

When I talk about The Leonardo Trait on book-related sites, I say…

Turn your creative eccentricity into a life you love. The Leonardo Trait is the book on creativity for creative dreamers, underachievers, undersucceeders and rock stars. It’s the owner’s manual for the brains of profoundly creative people, giving creative people permission to be exactly who, what and how they are.  It’s time to build the connection between your creative mind and success.

And that is exactly what the book is. This blog is an extension of that book, and I hope you’ll find some comfort here.