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I am a localization manager/translator and intercultural consultant living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about languages, cultures, diversity management, body art, dancing, self-empowerment, coaching, effective communication and, last but not least, vegan gluten-free food and good movies.

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

The mindset you need, when you are a polarizer, and a very special kind of smile that can make your day

Sometimes, being who you are, being authentic, feels risky.
It can feel like being exposed, too vulnerable, even like an open target... or a little bit naked.

Hiding could seem the perfect solution for that, and yet I had to experience, day in and day out, that pushing even harder and being, even more, yourself and showing it to the world is the only solution that will make you happy in the long run.

You have been given a gift. Please stop squandering it.

Congratulations, honey. Welcome to the club. It's time to start enjoying your superpowers.
On Wednesday, it happened to me three times. 
And I smiled every single one. (Ahoi Wednes-yay for that!)

How? You may ask.
Let's take a step back.

[Let's take a step back, 
with my gorgeous purple flat ballerinas
made in Italy (RIP, lovely shoes)]

I am a polarizer, ladies and gents.
Which means that I am used to the good, the bad and the ugly of being at the center of attention wherever I go, whatever I do.

While going around in summer with short dresses and flip-flops or flat ballerinas, I am used to the fact that the vast majority of people of any age would behave in one of these ways:


#1. Not only stare at me (this happens the whole year, so no biggie), but moreover stare specifically at my legs. I am just a pair of legs, apparently. Even if around 70% of my body is tattooed, their eyes and their face will immediately go "down" to my legs and don't bother to look at me as a person. 
Either with lust, disgust, curiosity, appreciation, disapproval or just pure incredulity. Without even trying to hide their reaction.
#2. Look away, as soon as they are near enough to feel "uneasy", for whatever reason: see the list of reactions above, or also because of the fear of being caught looking at my legs.
#3. Ask me if my tattoos are real, if I am wearing special socks or leggings, or similar questions.
#4. Try to touch my skin. (WTF, I know)

Kindness ratchets up. It leads to more kindness. It can create trust and openness and truth and enthusiasm and patience and possibility.
Seth Godin, Kindness scales

#5. Look at me dead in the eyes, without smiling and with a shocked facial expression, and expecting me to look away or to feel ashamed of who I am. It is usually enough to look at them in the eyes, while being friendly and smiling, for creating a short circuit in their mind. 

[Are people going to notice my purple dress,
my shiny shoes or my special leggings that are no leggings?

Yes, ladies and gents. I am not afraid, I am not ashamed, I am not interested.
I walk on the streets while minding my own business, and without really paying attention to the people around me.

The moment that judgement stops through acceptance of what it is, you are free of the mind.
You have made room for love, for joy, for peace.
Eckart Tolle

The only exception is bumping into someone else with a so-called full-body, so with a body that is fully tattooed. 

Like in the case of the exclusive club of colorful people, people with a full body usually tend to share the same kind of attitude about dealing with unknown people on the street. They know how it feels, they have been there before.

There is strong shadow where there is much light.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [1749-1832], Götz von Berlichingen

Unlike in the case of hipsters somehow tattooed because of some trend that engage in some tattoo war, most people with a full body just don't care. They don't need your approval, your interest or your solidarity. 

When I walk on the street and I meet one of them, one of us two will smile in a very relaxed and amused way at the other.
Like if we would know each other.
Like if we would share a secret.
Like if we would understand each other on a level that other people would never get.

Yesterday, it happened three times in a row. And I smiled every single one. 
They smiled back, and we followed each other with the eyes, while walking away in opposite directions.
Probably I will never get to know them and we will never meet again, yet I felt at home in Berlin even more than usual, ready to go for the next walk while knowing that I am free and someone, the right people, are going to smile at me on the street.

This one is for Patrick. Thank you.

Tags: Full body, Tattooed people, Berlin, Sense of belonging, Alternative way of life, Shame, Proud