"Your style man, your style! The whole composition- plain awesome."
How did he react?
He nodded. Paused, then said, "know what, I get that a lot. "Great jacket, great jacket!" All the time. And I hate it."
How did I feel?
I just went for a night run. In the center of Kreuzberg I passed Boto- and his jacket. The two of them stuck out. Just like his make up, his hair, his shirt, the single glove hanging from his belt, and his button saing "I <3 porn".
I knew the minute I saw him: He was my candidate. I turned around, ran up to him and his girlfriend, and told him I dug his style. And he- was officially the first out of 600 people to dislike the compliment. He'd heard "Your jacket rocks!" countless times before and explained, "What is this jacket really? Seriously, the one thing I care about is up here.", and pointed at his head. His brains, not his clothes. I nodded. And said, "Nice. I dig that reaction."
His girlfriend, Franzi, added, "But here's a story for you: We met because I complimented him on his jacket."
I perked my eyebrows up, "Really? And he took that?"
She laughed, "Yeah. See, I was at a bar with friends. One of them was pretty drunk and started throwing coasters at the shadiest guy he saw in the whole room, just for fun. The shady guy was Boto. It was one of his good days so he just ignored my friends. My other friend said to the coaster dude "I'll give you ten bucks if you walk up to that guy and tell him that you like his jacket." My friend said, "No way." And I got up right away. Ten bucks, that's four beers! I complimented Boto. And, since it was a good day of his, he embraced it. And we... well, are now a couple."
I smiled, "That is the sweetest story!"
Running home to my favorite jogging track I thought about what Boto had said. Sure, he had a point. But I did, too. If someone expresses themselves as openly through their style as he does they are an inspiration to me. I see them, I am grateful for their uniqueness. There is a rush of joy in me and I think, "I am so lucky to live in a place in which people are free to be themselves."
There is a wonderful quote by Marianne Williamson about personal potential and self expression:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of goodness. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of the good that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."