That Unicorn is a glittery, rainbow-maned metaphor for one’s joyful self

"I used to get angry when my dad would tell me to be myself. That plan had gotten me rejected in the most grandiose of ways . . ."

 

Excerpted from Be That Unicorn: Find Your Magic, Live Your Truth, and Share Your Shine (Mango Media) by Jenny Block. Copyright © 2020 by Jenny Block. Excerpted with permission of the author.

 

I’ve always wanted to be that “It Girl.” The one people were drawn to. The one who could garner the attention of everyone at a dinner party. The one who was so captivating that, no matter where she was or who she was talking to, everyone around her just glowed. The “It Girl” has some sort of magic force about her, and just being around her allowed you to become enveloped in it.

 

I used to think you became an “It Girl” through clothes or beauty or money. Maybe it was her travel or her experiences or her access to the world. The messaging from that world is confusing. “Be rich. Be young. Be beautiful. Then everyone will love you and you’ll have the world at your feet.” But some of the most banal people I have ever met get top marks in all three of those categories. So it sent me out on a journey pondering, “If that wasn’t what made the girl—or the guy— what was it?”

 

It wasn’t until I truly listened to the words my father had been saying to me since I was a little girl that I realized what the magic quotient of the It Girl truly was: authenticity. She feels so comfortable in her skin that she can’t help but let it spring out from her like so many sparkly strands that surround and delight everyone around her.

 

Because she feels good about herself, she makes others feel the same way. There’s no one easier to adore than someone who reflects back to you the image of yourself that you long to see: the smart, funny, clever, enchanting, kind, calm, inviting version of yourself that knows just what to do and how to do it in every situation.

 

That girl (or guy) is That Unicorn.

 

I used to get angry when my dad would tell me to be myself. That plan had gotten me rejected in the most grandiose of ways, including when I went to Camp Louise the summer between eighth and ninth grades. Everyone else had grown up and arrived at camp with luggage packed with Bloomies underwear and magazine pages to hang in their lockers of the latest hunky movie stars. I showed up with my monkey puppet: “Hi! I’m Jenny and this is my monkey, Henry.” It was social suicide at first sight.

 

But what I didn’t know back then was that those girls were even more insecure than I was. It was that very desperation that pushed them to follow the crowd in every sense, to dress the same and talk the same and drool over the very same heartthrobs. I was too naïve to know any better. I was just being, well, me. That summer was the beginning of me deciding that that whole “be yourself” thing was for the birds. All it got you was a seat at the dork table in the cafeteria and a lot of lonely Saturday nights.

 

But years of following the crowd did me no good, either. Not in the long run, anyway. Why? Because I wasn’t being me. I was faking it . . . and not in the “fake it till you make it” kind of way, just in the plain old “fake it ʼcause you don’t know what the heck else to do” kind of way. That’s never good. When I was faking it, I felt fake. When I was my actual self, I felt so much better. Slowly it became clear to me: being yourself might not always be the easiest, but it is always the best.

 

So, when I got to college, I decided it was the perfect time to retest my dad’s “be yourself and they will come” theory. And, go figure, it worked. People liked to be around me because I knew who I was and I was happy and comfortable in my own skin. From then on, that was my path. Sure, I had and continue to have plenty of days plagued by insecurity. But most days are pretty prancy. I became That Unicorn by not trying to be any girl other than me.

 

That Unicorn is the best you. That Unicorn is a glittery, rainbow-maned metaphor for one’s joyful self . . . the kind of person we are all drawn to. That Unicorn is you. My mom has always said that people are drawn to me because I make everyone feel good about themselves. Throughout my life, people have echoed that sentiment. It’s the thing I love about myself the most: I’m the big sister, the BFF, the mom, the cheerleader, the coach . . . “the little unicorn that could” who everyone deserves.

 

Excerpted from Be That Unicorn: Find Your Magic, Live Your Truth, and Share Your Shine (Mango Media) by Jenny Block. Copyright © 2020 by Jenny Block. Excerpted with permission of the author.

 

Jenny Block began her career in words teaching college English in Virginia. Before too long, she found herself writing articles and books about everything from art to rock climbing to finding love. After that came radio and television appearances, as well as speaking engagements at universities, museums, and even on cruise ships. She has traveled the world and has had the pleasure of meeting and working with all kinds of people from all kinds of places doing all kinds of things. That’s when she discovered her magic—bringing out That Unicorn in all of us. Now, Jenny spends her time and her words living her truth and sharing her shine on a lake in Nowhere, Texas, with her wife Robin and her Chihuahua-terrier, Walter.