April Jeppson: There’s nothing wrong with being goofy 

Published 8:45 pm Friday, April 1, 2022

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

You wanna know something awkward that happens to me more times than I like to admit? Someone 20 or so feet away waves and I think they’re waving at me. I don’t recognize them right away, but they seem genuinely excited to see me, so I start to hesitantly wave back. Thankfully the person behind me, that they are actually gesturing to, usually pipes up pretty quick and saves me from an inevitable embarrassing conversation.

April Jeppson

I saw something this week that said, “Sorry I acted weird the other day. I was trying so hard to act normal that it backfired.” I can relate to that.

I was at a work conference probably about five years ago. It was in the evening and we’d all gotten together to go out for a show that night. As we were hanging out and getting to know each other better, I found one of my co-workers looking at me kind of oddly. I asked them what was going on and he just said, “you’re kind of goofy.”

I laughed at first, but deep down I was a little insulted. I wasn’t sure what he meant. I wanted him to take it back and call me something else. I suggested silly, funny or weird, but he insisted that the correct word was goofy.

I know I lingered on this experience way longer than I should have. I kept trying to figure out exactly what I did wrong. Was it when I spontaneously started singing because someone said a few words that reminded me of a song? Maybe it was when I complimented that gal on the color of her eyeshadow (it really was the most amazing color for her skin tone). Was it the random movie references I made? Maybe my hand gestures were too over the top …

I used to try so hard to be “normal.” Fun, but normal. I wanted to fit in and be taken seriously. I was always trying to find the perfect balance between what was socially acceptable and what I actually wanted to say and do. But man oh man, if a good song came on, I couldn’t always stop myself from dancing. Or if I saw the coolest glitter sneakers (and they made them in adult sizes!) I couldn’t help myself from buying a pair — or three.

Eventually I just stopped trying so hard. I no longer tried to edit myself by filing down the rough spots so that others would be more comfortable. What about me and my comfort? Didn’t I matter? Didn’t my happiness mean anything? I mean, it might not mean much to you, but it sure should mean something to me. So, I leaned in to the things that made me different, and I embraced it.

The simple act of not caring so much about what people thought of me has opened up my life immensely. I’ve met so many other “weird” people that I absolutely adore. I’ve also been given opportunities that otherwise would have passed me by. When you’re different from the rest, you stand out. And when you stand out, people notice you.

Fun fact, I don’t always like standing out, which is why when I was growing up, I tried so hard to fit in. For this reason, I still have my moments where I catch myself trying too hard to be accepted. That might never completely go away. But thankfully, as I age, I care less and less what others think of me. I’m kind of excited to see how goofy I’ll be when I’m 80.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.