Remember that episode from Friends, where Rachel decides to go for a run with Phoebe and gets embarrassed over the fact that Phoebe runs like a child? If not, you’re probably too young and this entry might not be relevant to you yet. You can however keep reading and take some notes for the future.

Phoebe’s character in Friends, was a very intense one. Always excited, Phoebe did her thing, ignoring the social norms that often dictate how an adult should behave. Are there any Phoebes out there struggling to fit in or is it just me?

Since I was a child, I have been very animated and expressive with my face and my hands, to the extent that one of my university professors stopped me during an oral examination and told me to stop making faces, because I would make many wrinkles. She also advised me to use an eye mask when home, to reverse the damage already done. Furthermore, I got congratulated by family members on my wedding photographs, because I managed to keep a straight face and look pretty.

I guess being like that, as a child, a teenager or even a young woman is ok, but the more I grow, the more I struggle with it. I have struggled with it especially since my working life begun… And especially in Norway, where people are quite reserved and modesty is seen as great virtue. I have often gotten a “what the heck” look as a response to my intensity and made many people dizzy with the rapid hand movement accompanying my words. Even worse, I have been perceived as immature, not reflected or even dumb at times.

As small as this seems, it takes its toll on you to feel rejected, just because of the way you speak and basically the way you are. So, I made a not so wise decision and tried to change. Tried to be serious at work, professional, not joke around and Oh My God how boring that was! It was boring and restricting and I thought at times, that I was going to explode. Understandably, that period didn’t last long. Soon, I had to sit down with myself and simply come to terms with the fact that the serious façade, is not for me. My excitement is way too precious for me and it’s not worth sacrificing.

So this goes out to all the Phoebes of the world. You don’t have to change who you are to fit in, you just need to own who you are. An emotional person is not a stupid one, nor an incapable one. Trying hard to change, will only put you in unnecessary distress. If you are committed to your work and respect people around you, I see no reason why you can’t be who you want to be.

More importantly, do you really need to be liked by everyone?  Not just at work, but in every aspect of your life. I for once, have realized that the people, who don’t like me, are the ones that I don’t like too much either and I see no reason in trying to change that. If someone choses to believe that you’re not reflected just because you don’t take yourself too seriously all the time, is that person worth your energy?

And as far as wrinkles go, we’re all going to have them anyway, so I’d rather have them from smiling too much, rather than from frowning too much.


Published by Eleni Riga-Johansen