Rudolf the S.O. What! Reindeer

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is right around the corner.

I remember the anxious feelings I had as a child watching under the bedroom door of the room that my sister and I shared. Our mom and my stepdad would make us go to bed then pull out our gifts from their hiding places. We watched as they walked back and forth down the hallway of our small house carefully placing gifts under the tree.

Christmas was exciting, and I would momentarily forget about the challenges I discussed in my first book. I forgot how I was teased at school for many things especially my teeth, my smile.

The other day as I watched a commercial talking about Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer, something quite profound (to me at least) hit me. I am Rudolf, and I bet you are too.

You see, Rudolf was different.

He stood out because of his big, red nose. He just wanted to be like the other reindeer and fit in, but they made fun of him, and he was embarrassed and ashamed.

My teeth were (well, are) huge, and years of sucking my thumb make them stick out more than slightly. I was embarrassed and ashamed and wished that my parents could afford braces. I just wanted to be like the other students and fit in.

Those other reindeer laughed at Rudolf and called him names.

My classmates called me Rabbit and Beaver. The reindeer never let Rudolf join in their games, and my classmates started the I Hate Summer Club and no one wanted to be my friend.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa called on none other than…Rudolf. Why? Because that thing that made him different was exactly what Santa needed. Santa needed that shiny nose to help him see through the fog. Santa needed Rudolf to lead him and the reindeer that had made fun of him.

Although I was teased throughout my childhood for my bucked teeth and my big smile (that I tried to hide to conceal my teeth), I began to be known for my smile…in a positive way.

I even regularly got compliments on my smile more than anything else.

When I am happy, I smile. When I’m hurt, I smile. Throughout everything, I smile. And God is using my smile and my big ole, teeth to encourage others. To lead others, even those who made fun of me, and help them see through the fog.

What is that one thing that people tease you about the most or that you are most uncomfortable with about yourself? Well, get prepared for God to use that thing for your benefit and the benefit of others.



I’m Summer Owens, and my passion is helping youth and young adults realize success no matter what obstacles they face. As an international resilience and leadership keynote speaker, author, S.O. What! Success Coach, and creator of the S.O. What! Literacy, Life Skills, and Character Education curriculum, I empower people to say, “So what!” to even their greatest challenges.  provide a framework to help people see past their challenges and focus on solutions using the S.O. What! Success System (Overcome Obstacles + Eliminate Excuses + Calculate Choices = S.O. What! Success). Through keynotes, workshops, books, online courses, and workbooks, I use life’s challenges and my own story of resilience as a rape survivor and teen mom success story to help others confidently pursue their dreams.

Looking for an inspiring college motivational speaker? A high school literacy curriculum? A middle school life skills workbook? A great example for teen mothers? A women’s empowerment or single mother’s conference speaker?  I’m your girl and will help any audience say, “S.O. What!”.