“There’s only one thing that I know how to do well / And I’ve often been told that you only can do what you know how to do well / And that’s be you, Be what you’re like, Be like yourself.”

From “Whistling in the Dark” by They Might Be Giants.

When I was a kid, I devoted an absurd amount of time to a peculiar pursuit: learning to spin a basketball on my fingertip. This wasn’t a skill born out of ambition to join the NBA or to dazzle scouts; it was more of a personal quest, a quirky challenge I set for myself. You know, the sort of thing that makes perfect sense to a kid’s mind but leaves adults scratching their heads in bewilderment.

Each day, armed with nothing but a bizarre amount of basketball-spinning-grit™ and a worn-out basketball, I’d stand in my driveway, intent on mastering this art. It was my own little circus act, a spectacle of one, where the applause was purely internal.

And while it wasn’t the kind of talent that would light up marquees or earn standing ovations, in those moments of successful spinning, I felt like I had unlocked a secret level in the game of life.

We’re not all destined for the spotlight of Carnegie Hall or the praise of Michelin-starred critics, but that doesn’t mean our particular quirks aren’t worthy. They Might Be Giants, in their song “Whistling in the Dark”, resonate with a sentiment akin to my basketball adventures: there’s beauty in embracing the one thing you do best, especially if that one thing is being unapologetically you.

“There’s only one thing that I know how to do well, And I’ve often been told that you only can do what you know how to do well, And that’s be you, Be what you’re like, Be like yourself.”

These lines preach a sermon of individuality. They speak to our idiosyncrasies, the weird, wonderful talents that set us apart from the faceless crowd.

Speaking of idiosyncrasies… let me make an unexpected, absurd comparison.

Imagine if Mozart, having penned his latest symphony, thought, “Maybe I should switch to spinning basketballs on my finger?” We might’ve been deprived of his Requiem and instead witnessed him trying to join the Harlem Globetrotters. Yet, this fanciful musing reminds us that embracing our true selves, quirks and all, is where fulfillment is found. We shine brightest when we’re authentically ourselves.

As the lyrics of They Might Be Giants remind us, the world doesn’t need another copy. It needs originality. It needs you, in all your basketball-spinning glory. So, go on, spin that ball or whistle your tune. Because no one does ‘you’ better than…well, you.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Product + Content Marketing at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.