Standout or Fadeaway

The streets are filled with people milling in their drab attire, the mood is heavy, even the air feels acrimonious. Heads are down, they have somewhere to go and no desire to get there. Enter a small child, full of color and laughter and dance, skipping along and pullingStandout the string of a large red balloon.

An angry crowd is steeping with outrage. The tension is so thick you could choke on it. Yelling, swearing, hurling, exploding. One man stops and sits in the middle of the chaos, cross-legged, right on the ground. A couple of tears fall from his eyes as the overwhelming sadness contradicts the outpouring of wrath surrounding him. A young woman notices the man and sits where she is. Her group of friends join her.

Row after row of yellow umbrella donned lemonade stands selling lemonade in transparent plastic cups with pink straws. $2 for a 16 ounce cup, it’s delicious, it’s refreshing, it’s everything you want in a cold drink of lemonade. A woman walks in pushing a green cart, her lemonade is organic and it comes in a cup made from corn, it’s $3.50 for a 16 ounce cup.

I grew up in Cambridge, MA. There’s a brick corner that surrounds the back of the Harvard Square T (subway) stop known as the pit. This is where you spend the vast majority of years 13-19. I’m sure the groups have changed since I had time to idle away hours sitting on a brick wall. The skaters hung out by the makeshift ramp whose intended purpose is the back wall of the station. Robed in their Gotcha T’s, earrings and obligatory bangs hiding their eyes. The hippies sat on the wall, barefoot, playing the tambourine and making beaded jewelry to sell at the next show. The drug dealers hung out by the pay phones, conveniently placed next to road to be able to respond to their pagers and greet their customers as they pulled up. The punks stood near the skaters mustering the aloof confidence synonymous with Doc Martins and liberty spikes. The theatre kids and the “regular” kids moved through to meet up, make appearances, find out and let others know what was going on for the night.

Standing out is easy when everyone else is doing the same thing. Fading away is too. How do you stand out in Harvard Square? In a crowded marketplace there’s just as many people selling organic lemonade in green bottles as there are selling it to support a charity or promising to transport you to a porch with Scarlet O’Hara or even pink. If you stand out as the cheapest, the best, the strongest, the most fun, the most convenient, there will be others saying the same thing.

Who are you trying to get to notice you? The cute boy in your gym class? People who want the cheapest replacement for their iPhone screen? The dad who doesn’t have time to cook dinner tonight? Your boss? Your employees? Why should they notice you?

What do you do love doing? What do you do really well? Be noticed for that. Stand out from the crowd for being yourself in a sea of people trying to get noticed.

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