(This is how I imagined myself.)
“Tell me a fun fact about you.”
I don’t know when or in what context this question first got my attention; but I began to use it in group presentations in which I needed to get a group working together and sharing personal things. It seemed easier for folks to generate an idea than if I asked them, “Tell us something interesting about you” which appeared to activate the self-deprecation filter of “I’m not a very interesting person.”
For me it initially began when I was rediscovering parts of myself following my divorce and being out in the dating world again. I wanted to be seen as someone who was interesting enough to rise above the field and capture the interest of someone who was also interesting. Fun fact: at that time I was taking windsurfing lessons. (Now, this is less interesting and more a sad reality–but I could never really master the “the board environment”. I spent more time in the lake than on the board. I completely failed at this endeavor.) I mentioned the fun fact idea to a married friend who later remarked, “I don’t know what my fun fact would be—I don’t feel like I have one.” (Incidentally—NOT TRUE—she has many fun facts.)
There are 2 developmental periods in which this task becomes paramount. The first is in emerging adulthood—the desire to become our own person—to develop a talent or way of being that shows the world and people around us that we are noteworthy. We see in in adolescents who work to stand out in a crowd, whether with blue hair, clothes that are more like costumes, or mad talent. We coach them on how to stand out in college applications. We want them to stand out—but just not TOO far. And so, we teach them about the importance of conformity.
As much as we all want to be known and seen as unique, we also want to fit in. It’s the paradox again. The one that we often address with this blog—like even the idea that Life is Messy and Life is Marvelous! Those adolescents who are striving so hard to be different also want to fit in—even the ‘outcasts’ in schools, group together and look alike. And it’s not just kids—I once noted about the artist mentality of Ashville, NC, that people tended to conform in their local non-conformity.
Some of the worst fighting words I ever encountered were from someone who would start his sentence with “Women like you ______.” This immediately screamed at me that I’d been stuffed into a box and was no longer seen for who I really am—a unique and special person with my own thoughts and opinions. I had to let that one go eventually and follow the advice of my favorite poet and philosopher of all time, Dr. Seuss, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
The second time this drive for uniqueness occurs is after we move through early adulthood when we tend to conform more to the social standards that we grew up with believing this will make us more successful whether professionally or in our personal lives, such as parenting. Many of us get into the groove of daily life and let go of those things that made us stand out. (There are always exceptions, of course.) The great psychological theorist Carl Jung, posited that at middle age we are again driven to pick up these pieces of ourselves that we lost somewhere along the way. Some folks erroneously judge this as a mid-life crisis when we return to the ‘follies’ of our youth, but perhaps, if we do it responsibly, it is more of an imperative. The great choreographer and dancer Martha Graham aptly noted, “You are unique, and if that is not fulfilled, then something has been lost.”
You are unique, and if that is not fulfilled, then something has been lost. ~Martha Graham
In my quest for blog research, I’ve been asking my friends, “What’s a fun fact about you?”
“I wrote 2 novels in 6 weeks.” “I do community theater.” “I brew my own beer.” “I ballroom dance.” “I write poetry.” “I play bass in jazz combos.” “I do Reiki on my plants.” “I host house concerts.” “I fly my own private plane.” “I’m a blogger.” “I intentionally use ‘Spoonerisms’.” (Look that one up if it’s unfamiliar to you.)
These answers led me to think about how it is our uniqueness that connects us with others. Ultimately, I believe we want to be in community with like-minded, divergent* thinkers. (*Per Mirriam-Webster, divergent means “relating to or being an infinite sequence that does not have a limit or an infinite series whose partial sums do not have a limit.”) I think this is exactly what makes our world a richer place and our lives meaningful when we quit limiting ourselves and embrace our unique talents in this world.
“Each of us is a unique strand in the intricate web of life and here to make a contribution.” ~Deepak Chopra
Our fun facts keep us interested as well as interesting and foster our on-going growth. Our growth and self-actualization in this life is really about becoming our most whole self. This allows us to bring our most unique and whole self to our community.It is our uniqueness that connects us with others. -LiM² Click To Tweet
Maybe our most fun fact could be “I can bring my complete, beautiful self to connect with you in a greater community.” Perhaps that is enough to work toward in this life.
“To be oneself, simply oneself, is so amazing and utterly unique an experience that it’s hard to convince oneself so singular a thing happens to everybody.” ~Simone de Beauvoir, Prime of Life
So Know Your Fun Fact because Life is Messy and Life is Marvelous.