Its OK to be different, and in fact it’s necessary. Albert Einstein was smart but it was his different-ness that catches my attention. His intelligence isn’t what impresses me, but his quirkiness totally does, His unusual and uncommon ways of being and doing that gave him an advantage, His ability to hyper focus on things that interested him, his disinterest in peoples and his consistent desire for isolation.
Einstein had an amazing ability to persevere in the face of his uniqueness, despite what other thought and said, ironically his theories were not always immediately accepted and several of his teachers lacked confidence in him as a student. thankfully they were not tied to what other thought of him. He wasn’t always respected and certainly as a Jewish man in Germany wasn’t always liked. He was different, and different can be scary not just for those around you , but for the one who possesses the different. However, it couldn’t be any other way in order for his brilliance to emerge. Einstein lived comfortably with this distinctiveness, rather than kill it off. He soared to great heights testing the boundaries of the human mind. Most human beings have difficulty accepting their differences.
I drew Einstein not because he was brilliant, in fact i can’t even tell you the theories he developed. I drew Einstein because he was a great man even though he was different.
Ordinarily, natural differences become visible adversaries to social status and marks we want to hide , tear up or erase. sometimes they even impede potential. Most young people want to fit in to the “herd”, blend in at all costs. No one wants to be considered “odd”. Those who have incompatible traits, are usually insecure because they have a peculiarity, or a feature that makes them stand out. I drew Einstein to remind us all that differences are beautiful and we ought to savor and salute them.
I love that Albert Einstein didn’t wear socks, even in winter. His hair and clothes were unkempt. In her book on great minds, Claudia Kalb says this, “the physicist was well known for his disheveled dress. His clothes were often tattered, his shoelaces untied his hair un-brushed, his pants wrinkled.” His wife Elsa was noted as saying he was ‘terribly hard to manage’, chastising him for going around in his dress coat. Kalb says, “What mattered to Einstein was not the aesthetics of the body but the substance of the mind. The physicist brilliance , as it turned out was paired with behavioral traits and personality quirks that are less well known and celebrated. As a child he talked late and was a social misfit who distanced himself from other kids. In adulthood, he was disorganized and had rocky relationships. Throughout life he focused intensely on topics that interested him and was such a tenacious and persistent thinker that he often retreated from people. ‘ i am truly a lone traveler.’ he reflected ‘and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends or even my family with my hole heart, in the face of all this i have never lost the sense of distance and the need for solitude.'” pg. 261 – claudia Kalb, andy warhol was a hoarder.
I found a letter I wrote to myself a while ago. I said, “I‘m slowly becoming aware of my value apart from anything or anyone else and i’m learning to accept myself as is. I don’t have to attach myself to the way other people function in order to succeed. Comparison is my opponent, i can either spend my energy trying to be like other people or spend my energy doing what i was made for. Am I ok with that? Being different? I stay home, i make art, i’m an artist. On any given day at 1:00 p.m you might find me, writing in my pajamas, with un-brushed teeth and completely un ready for the day. I’m motivated by a unique set of factors, I work to an entirely different set of rules, I have to find value in this, I have to accept my own different self.
Einsteins teacher told him he would never amount to anything, because he wasn’t a “good student”, what she really meant was because he wasn’t like all the other students. Blast! Why do we do that? Why is success measured by our ability to conform? Today we would never say because Einstein dropped out of high school at 15 he was a failure. because we have the privilege of seeing the end product, sometimes we all need a little foresight.
“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”? – Albert Einstein
To make art – you need a different kind of brain. I can’t operate by a set of formulated rules and agendas, an artist rules are: there are no rules. An artist works by vision, comfort and inspiration. This is why I work best in my pajamas, alone and unimpeded by the world’s demands, expectations, and cynicism. I have to silence all the voices that aren’t the one voice, which tells me its ok to be different.
Its hard to give myself permission to need something different, especially when I’m not getting compensated. Its hard to give myself permission to sit for hours in bed clothes and draw a picture that i have no guarantees will be seen, sold or worth anything, but its necessary to bringing forth something new that has the potential to be seen, or sold or worth something someday.
But then I look at this drawing I did of Einstein and I think that there may have been a time in Albert’s life where he too had to just give himself a little permission to be different to get the job done.
Do you need to give yourself permission to do things differently?