Kids, in the spring of 2016, I found myself having to defend being different to loved ones once again.
It had been a battle I constantly had to fight since childhood and even though I thought I was done explaining who and what I was at age 30, I had to re-introduce the concept of diversity to those closest to me.
That I was different from the culture and people I was born into was apparent from a very young age – I came home from my first day of primary school on the Cape Flats perplexed by the fact that this establishment did not have a cafeteria or lockers like I’d expected it to have ( let’s blame this on hours and hours of watching The Wonder Years).
In high school, my penchant for public speaking, poetry writing , black clothing, emo music, being vocal about women’s rights and having dreams that did not immediately include marriage set me apart from my peers and I constantly had to deal with “but why do you always have to be so different from everyone else? Can’t you just be normal?” comments from frenemies and bullies.
I struggled with depression as a teenager because being different was frowned upon and I twisted myself in all kinds of anxiety-ridden pretzels in an attempt to fit in …anywhere with anyone.
Finally, in my late 20s, I learnt to be comfortable with my weirdo self and share who I was with those in my inner circle.
It’s difficult, though, when the qualities I had worked so hard to cultivate in myself – strength, independence, free thinking, honesty, assertiveness, diligence, creativity, emotional vulnerability – were the very things people wouldn’t accept about me.
They used labels like weird, other, different as weapons in attacks on my character but were totally fine with me being that when it suited their needs.
I shed a few tears (ok, a lot of them!) at this renewed rejection but then I remembered something your Spirit Mom Leo shared with me soon after we met:
Being different in a world of sameness and sheep-like mentality is nothing to be ashamed about. I am, I was and I will always be weirdly different and it is more than okay – it is my damn birth right!
It’s yours too, my loves. You are extraordinarily wonderful just as you are and don’t you ever let anyone tell you differently xx