"Uber-compassionate life coach and photographer"
At the beginning of the interview Kylie and I talked a bit about what the term Square-Peg meant to each of us, Kylie shared:
The first thing that comes up for me is not fitting. I feel as if most people I know don't feel like they fit in - or they always felt like they fit in but that wasn't necessarily good for them, so eventually they had to embrace their otherness.
It's like everybody is a Square-Peg, but some people don't embrace that in their life, while others do.
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How Do You See Yourself as a Square-Peg?
Things that are mainstream kind of turn me off, so even if they end up being things that I like - the fact that they're mainstream turns me off.
And I remember in elementary school I was always changing my hair. I never had the same hairstyle for very long. I had the weirdest hairstyles and haircuts - and I wore the weirdest clothes.
I had these pants that my friends called "the picture pants". The print on them - who knows where that fabric came from - was a bunch of old photos. And I had other pants that I painted on - they had drawings on them. I just wore the weirdest stuff!
How Do You Maintain Your Square-Pegness (in a round-hole world)?
And I try to have pride in my oddities. Right now I'm having pride in liking mainstream things that people don't really see as who I am.
For instance, I really love Taylor Swift. And I really, really love country music! For the past 6 months that's almost exclusively what I've listened to. That's not seen as particularly cool. I don't know of anyone else in my community who listens to country music, but I just really love it.
So I try to celebrate that rather than being embarrassed by it.
How do you deal with it when your inner guidance seems to pull you toward something that you don't think fits your own concept of yourself?
Hmmm, I think that I consider whether it fits with my values and who I want to be. The first example that comes up for me is with movies and TV shows; I really love watching things on Netflix.
So, for awhile I was watching Californication - it drew me in.
It seemed very at odds with my lifestyle: I don't live a partying lifestyle, I don't swear a lot, I don't drink or do drugs or smoke, and that's kinda what this show centers around.
I asked myself if it felt good to watch that show and if it was teaching me, or impressing upon me, values that I wanted to have. And I found out that it didn't. It was entertaining, but it wasn't making me feel good to watch it - so I ended up stopping watching it.
But there are other TV shows that seem at odds with who I am but there are pieces that I identify with and they feel good for me to watch.
As an example, probably my favorite TV show is Dexter, which is about a serial killer. That show is very dark as well and I see value in it.
There's a lot of contemplation about morality, and even though the main character is a serial killer he values a lot of things that I do (of course in other ways he does not value the things I do), but it makes me feel good so I decided to go forward with it.
What's Been the Hardest for You as a Square-Peg?
I come to things later than some people.
Because I tend to resist trends just to be a contrarian I will oftentimes find out about fun, great things a lot later than everybody else.
For example, I resisted reading Martha Beck's books for years and years just because she was so popular, so influential, and everybody talked about her.
Finally a client gave me a couple of her books and I was immediately drawn in. Now I use her stuff all the time on myself and clients. I just adore her and I see what everybody was talking about!
And then the other thing is thinking that I'm the only person in the world who feels the way I feel.
The reason that I really started to get that everybody feels this way was when all of my coaching clients were coming to me and saying the things I used to say to myself:
"What's wrong with me?"
"Nobody else feels this way!"
"I'm the only person who ever does this!"
I find myself saying to my clients all the time, "Seriously, seriously! I really want to impress upon you that I feel like this all the time, all of my friends feel like this all the time, and all of my other clients feel like this all of the time. Really, I'm not lying to you!"
I think being a Square-Peg, having these weird things - but also being a quiet person and not having the tools to ask about them, to ask for help - I feel like those two things combined has been hard!
What's Your Favorite Square-Peg Trait?
The thing I like most about Square-Pegness is the freedom to choose.
Like, ever since I found out, years and years ago, what Queerness was (in a gender and sexuality place) it felt really freeing - because it was, Queerness was, defined as non-normative - a really, really broad umbrella term for anything that didn't fit into the norm.
So, to me, that's like Square-Pegness. And because - if you choose to identify with that (either Queerness or Square-Pegness) - you are automatically placing yourself outside the norm, that feels to me like it gives me the ability to choose anything!
It's like - there's so much freedom:
I don't have to be straight.
I don't have to express myself as a woman if I don't want to.
I don't necessarily have to go to college if I don't want to.
I don't have to take the same career path if I don't want to.
I don't have to have children the same way other people do.
There are just so many choices, so much freedom in just identifying with a term!
What trait is your favorite one about YOU?
My favorite thing about myself would probably be my compassion.
Years ago I probably had very little compassion for myself. But through all of my different struggles: depression, family of origin stuff, eating disorders, being alone in New York - I've come, over many years, to have compassion.
I feel like I'm always learning more about it and trying to find ways to practice it, for myself and for other people.
And now it feels a little more natural to me for compassion to be my default in like every situation. That's something that feels like a trait within me. It's also a tool, but it feels like it's part of me now.
How did compassion become an enlivened trait for you?
I think it's been a very, very, very gradual process over many years.
It probably started, or coincided, with my own healing. My rock-bottom place was during and after my college years; I had the most issues with depression, eating disorders, everything all together.
Because it got so bad I was desperately searching for anything to make it better. That led me to a lot of things: therapy, a lot of self-help stuff, reading, social justice and activism, Buddhism.
The best and biggest tool that I've had is Buddhist practices and teachings; but it's been that combined, over several years, with reading, therapy work, and working with different practitioners and self-worth practices.
What Are Your Favorite Books?
This is like the hardest question ever, but it's a really good question!
My absolute favorite books, that I always know are my favorite books, are the Harry Potter books. I read them over and over again. I've read each of them many, many times.
I love them - that's my comfort reading. Anytime I need comfort I read Harry Potter and snuggle in bed.
I also really, really love The Phantom Tollbooth. I just love both of those so much!
Those are my fiction absolute positive favorites, I read them over and over again.
But usually I'm reading nonfiction, so beyond those it's usually self-helpy kind of stuff:
Martha Beck's books. All of them! I refer to, and give them, to my clients. I love them!
I've also gotten a lot from Brené Brown's books, especially I Thought It Was Just me (but it isn't).
Kylie blogs at effervescence - (subtitled "the art of liking yourself") where you can meet Adventure Mouse*
"official mascot of the Itty Bitty Adventure Club, a not-at-all exclusive club",
*I adore Adventure Mouse, just sayin'
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(Full Disclosure: we're affiliates of Amazon.com - so when you buy from the book links above you don't pay a penny more, but you help support Square-Peg People. Thanks!)