Remember the good old show “Sesame Street”–and the one skit where they did “this thing is different from another” and you had to figure out what it was? It had a little jingle too to engage the kids, just like all the wonderful things on that show!
Well, I feel I have been that ‘different thing’ my whole life. For as long as I can recall, I’ve always been the odd kid out, the one that did everything against the grain. As a youth, this of course often frustrated (or angered) the adults in charge around me. As an adult it leaves me, at times, like the bright berry surrounded by the melding colors of those around me.
I’m not sure where this part of me comes from: maybe the lonely heart of an adoptee looking to be seen by those passing by. Or maybe this is just who I would have been anyway: the stray, wandering off from the pack to march to my own drum.
Having been a vegetarian, long before it was fashionable, I got looks from waitresses when I would question what was in the soup stock. And I brought bags to pack my groceries before Whole Foods gave you money for it–back then the baggers just got annoyed and huffed and puffed as though you were putting them out. Now I’m a hero!
For years I’ve embarrassed my kids with my ‘behaviors’, being too out there (I don’t see it as such)–maybe talking to strangers or how passionate I am. I just have never seemed to be able to melt into a crowd.
Belonging certainly has been something I have wanted: that symbiotic need where I would get out the desired sense of feeling a part, but I’ve never been willing to give up my identity.
Today, in this massively diverse world, belonging seems to create a strange new need. While I may have felt hurt or sadness, I never felt drawn to violence over people leaving me out. In fact, it either made me try harder to be kind–or made me tuck into myself more.
It never made me lose my sense of self, my ideals or values. Over the years, they have gotten stronger while my mouth has gotten softer in expressing them.
We should all be acknowledged for the special and beautiful person we are, whether or not we are different from the next person. This can be very hard in these tumultuous and changing times. But there is room for growth and two different types of people can understand one another given patience and remaining open.
So I still stand out in a crowd and am proud, not sad, that I’m unique. It would never suit me to follow the masses. Rather I want to be hanging on where I’m not supposed to, saying what I really feel and always being true to my heart.