I’m an outlier and I embrace it.

Have you ever felt like no one understand you? What about the fact that you think people understand you, and then a comment or situation with them proves the opposite? Do you think differently or act differently from peers?

Let me reassure you, you are not alone. I do. And I’m good with it.

Caroline Weihl alpacas
Rocking rubber boots and ripped jean shorts in 2009.

Growing up was hard for me. I was always that quiet, skinny, weird girl who spent too much time working, doing well in school and getting overly involved in organizations and community activities. Being the oldest of my sister and me, I was also the “son” on the farm. This made me a bit more tomboyish and the uncanny ability to have more guy friends than girl friends. I grew out of the “shy” part a little. As for the skinny and weird, I’m still working on those. Nonetheless, in all points of my life, there is always a moment of being “the odd one out”. It may have been an instance as little as my favorite farm animal being the alpaca or as large as spending five consecutive hours doing homework and student organization projects on a Saturday night. Somehow, this feeling of being different has not changed since moving from high school and college to the working world.

Caroline Weihl CFAES Banquet 2013
I received recognition at our annual college banquet for being a top
student employee in my job two years while at Ohio State. #workaholic

Now, it is a larger scale of different. I am a female in the agriculture industry. More specifically, I am a young female in the seed industry. Even as more women work in different job sectors, it is mind boggling the amount of confused looks and skeptical remarks I get when I talk to people in the grocery store and strangers in the community. Sometimes, people are genuinely supportive with responses like, “Good for you! I’m sure you’ll do great.” Other times, it may go more like, “Oh, that’s interesting. Guess you are in the right place for that.”

Why are people in general surprised by my career path? I am not sure. It might just be new for them. But, it could also be they have not come across someone like me. I am sure that is the case.

I am an outlier. 

I am embracing this. I work my a** off for what I am passionate about and am more tenacious than most. I have often been described as more mature for my age and possibly being born in the wrong generation for some of my societal views and lifelong ambitions. There comes a point where what I once thought was negative and degrading has now become fuel for my fire and an internal motivator.

It has been challenging for me to stay positive sometimes. I recently retook the Gallup Strengths Finder analysis and to my surprise, my strengths have changed quite a bit. I have taken it either two or three times and had consecutively had the same three strengths in my top. Not anymore. However, after deeper reflection on my current life experiences and scenario, it made more sense. For those who are curious, here are my new top 5.

Gallup Strengths Finder Top 5

This analysis, I got the complete list of 34 strengths. I laughed when I saw the last one. Woo. Also known as “winning others over”, this is usually the top strength for very outgoing, bubbly people who like to make friends continuously. As you look at my top 5 or know me personally, you will discover I prefer fewer, more personal relationships than knowing everyone, their brother and their dog. You can learn more about all the strengths by visiting Gallup’s website and clicking on the 34 Full Descriptions.

Never feel weak.

Just because I am an outlier does not mean I should feel weak. Today, I attended a Palm Sunday service at a local church. I have been working on reconnecting with my faith and today, just felt like I needed to attend the service. My intuition was spot on. Today’s sermon by Pastor Adam was about Jesus and his trip to Jerusalem. He came on a donkey and is the King, but people thought He was weak. However, He who will be first must be last. Jesus was not weak, but was compassionate and humble. 
Do we sometimes feel weak for wanting to be liked or accepted by others? All the time. How do we overcome that? By remembering our greater purpose and our inner strength, goals and beliefs. 
I might be an outlier. You might be too. But, as long as we continue to embody who we are, believe in what we do and never let adversity overpower us, we can be strong.

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