Rudolph is a Badass: The Gift of Not Belonging

Posted by on December 22, 2023 in True Self, Your True Calling | 1 comment

The holidays can be a tough time for those of us who are grieving the loss of loved ones, feeling financially stressed, or dealing with dysfunctional families. To spread a little joy, I sang some Christmas carols recently at a local community center and noticed that “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” stood out. Not only did the audience know all the words by heart, but everyone seemed genuinely happy that Rudolph got to lead Santa’s sleigh.

The “very shiny nose” that had made him an outcast at the beginning of the story turned out to be the superpower that saved the day. The poet who created this beloved reindeer, Robert L. May, felt like an outsider himself. His classmates had picked on him at school because he was smaller than them, having skipped a couple of grades. He also struggled with financial loss and mourned the death of his wife as he wrote the words that his brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, would later turn into the famous Christmas song we all know and love.

We all want to be accepted for being different. We all want to feel like we belong, especially during times of hardship. Rudolph’s underdog story shows us how to see our own greatness and feel connected to something bigger.

Rudolph is a Badass

There’s no one else like you. You don’t have to try to be unique. You already are. However, you most likely buried your one-of-a-kind gifts in the unconscious to fit in with others and forgot who you are. Or you built a false persona to hide your true self.

In the classic 1964 TV special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the other reindeer teased Rudolph mercilessly for having a bright red nose. He tried to cover it with mud but the phony nose came off while he played with his so-called “friends.”

Feeling Stuck - Shake it Up BlogEventually, Rudolph ended up on the island of misfit toys. This sanctuary of unwanted presents was home to such rejects as a Charlie-in-the-box, a polka-dotted elephant, a bird that swims instead of flies, a cowboy who rides an ostrich, a train with square wheels, and a squirt gun that shoots jelly. If these fabulous creatures were ever to take a creativity workshop from me, I’d instantly give them each an A+ for originality and inventiveness. I admire their superpowers! Rudolph fit right in. But as we all know, that’s not where the story ended.

“Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say, Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

Once Santa realized that Rudolph’s glowing nose could help him weather the storm, Rudolph shined his crazy light out into the world and went down in history as a powerful leader.

What about you? Did someone ever belittle your abilities or try to take your power away? The holidays can be an especially difficult time if your family never saw your true gifts.

I give you an A+ for being YOU. Right now. Just the way you are. The most important thing you can do to stay happy and centered, no matter what happens, is to accept yourself exactly the way you are.

What’s wrong with a squirt gun that shoots jelly? Or a bird that swims? Or an ostrich-riding cowboy? NOTHING. It’s only when we compare these toys to how we think they SHOULD be that they seem defective.

In the same way, people sometimes measure you up against the YOU they think you should be, so it’s no wonder you come up short. But it’s got nothing to do with you. It’s a reflection of THEM.

I’ve noticed that most of the clients who take my workshops to find their true gifts don’t feel like they don’t fit in. Other people seem to be happier with their jobs, their marriages, or their lives than they are. Once they begin to understand that what makes them different makes them special, they feel enlivened for a moment but then they insist there must be a hitch.

One man sitting in the front row of my classroom booms resolutely, “I can’t just run off and do what I please. That’s being irresponsible.”

“How will I be able to pay my bills if I follow my heart?” another participant calls from the back of the room.

“My husband will leave me if I do what I really want,” a fidgety lady moans, eyeing the door for a quick getaway.

I’m not surprised by their hesitation. My students worry that being one’s true self will lead to disaster somehow. But I have found quite the opposite to be true. When these same doubtful workshop participants eventually found the courage to own their superpowers and answer their true callings, they thrived in their new lives.

For example, “Lauren,” a bored technical writer, often wore bunny slippers to class. It was clear she wasn’t your typical Silicon Valley worker. She told us she scribbled ideas for movies in the margins of her tech manuals. I encouraged Lauren to focus on those marginalized writings. A year later she wrote, directed, and produced an internationally-distributed film. Now Lauren’s flourishing in the entertainment industry.

1452583_657608887613306_1760522448_nWhat about you? Take a deep breath and think about your life for a moment. Do you feel as if you don’t belong, or like something is missing? If so, it could be because you cut off pieces of your true self to squeeze into roles and situations that don’t suit you. Perhaps you hate your job, or your friends don’t share your core values, or you’re bored to tears living in the suburbs when you’d much prefer the city. How are you a misfit in your own life?

Copying someone else and doing what you’re told to do will take you off course. Listening to your inner wisdom and following your heart will put you back on it. Honor your individuality and you will find your own life path to follow.

What special talents, skills, and interests make you different? What gift would the world miss out on if you blocked it?

Rudolph is less than thrilled that his nose glows until he leads Santa’s sleigh with it. Lauren owned her ability to write scripts and thrived in the entertainment industry. My colleagues told me I was crazy to ditch my job as a professor to sing, but after my debut CD got signed to a major label they changed their minds.

You have amazing gifts that no one else has. That meaningful dream or heartfelt hobby that’s been on the back burner is calling you to use those superpowers. Why not take a moment during this holiday season to ask yourself what you want to do with your precious life? What wants to come into the world through you? Taking this time for self-reflection, even if for just a few minutes, can help you handle the holiday stress and set you on a path toward more happiness and joy in 2024.

Next Blog: How to Get What You Wish For in 2024

1 Comment

  1. Great article, Michelle. Not that I haven’t heard some of these things before, but it is always great to be reminded. You have clearly found more than one of your true gifts, and have used them to fulfill yourself and bless others. That’s huge!

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