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I spent my toddlerhood in frilly, girly dresses and panties with ruffled bottoms. Nervous disposition, sensitive stomach, the doctor told my mother I was ‘high strung’ or easily upset. My mother’s extreme lack of confidence and poor social skills likely contributed to my nerves and differences. I toughened up and grew into a tomboy, a girl who hung out with the boys in the neighborhood, riding bikes, shooting baskets, playing kickball and using far too many profane words (because I couldn’t say them at home). My mom went so far as to take my husband aside and warn him before our marriage that I was “different”. I know about that conversation because he told me.

Of course, he told me. Different is good. Different is wonderful. Different is what it’s all about. There are no secrets between the man I’ve known and loved for 29 years (half of my life) and me. Of course, he told me what she’d said. She meant well, but he already knew I was different. So is he. That’s what brought us together in the first place and that’s what has kept us together. He encourages me to be me. I celebrate all that is unique and incredible about him, too.

He doesn’t care what color my hair is. I’ve always messed with my hair. It’s one way of being different and expressing myself. It’s fun. Hell, it’s the one thing I can change. I’ve been every color. My long-time stylist often asks, “what color do you want to be today?” She’s lucky she escaped my 1980’s metal band/Motley Crue/Nice ‘N Easy blue-black/Nikki Sixx phase. Yeah, at one time I rocked a blue-black, long, curly perm. It looked awesome. I suppose blonde with pink highlights has nothing on that. My natural color used to be dark brown; I suppose it’s gray now. I don’t know and probably never will because I don’t intend to let it go natural. Being able to make the dull different is really what a good color job is about.

I work in a traditional law firm, doing something that’s different. My job is specialized and not quite like any other legal administrative assistant’s job. It’s so specific that at our firm we don’t get help from the stable of floating secretaries who fill in when an attorney’s assistant is out. They aren’t able to do what we do. I love the work because it is unique. Detailed and demanding with a special set of skills it was the area of the law that appealed to me. Intellectual property is defined as ‘work or invention that is the result of creativity’ or something created by the mind. We protect people’s creations. It’s a different area of the law.

Perhaps being unique has something to do with my zodiac sign although I’ve never put much stock in that kind of thing. I am an Aquarius. I am the water bearer or water carrier, described as progressive, original, independent, deep thinker, highly intellectual, shy, quiet, eccentric. All these Aquarius terms fit me. I look for ways to be unique and then wonder sometimes why I don’t quite fit in. Creativity is why I write. Mental stimulation is why I read. I went for a web design degree because it was hard and because it was different from what I already knew. I need to be using my brain all the time. It’s always creating, always churning and mulling things over. I sleep poorly because I can’t shut my brain off some nights.

I struggled with a post the other day because it wasn’t different. I recently became an ARC reader for a few authors. I volunteered to do my first ‘cover reveal’ post. I struggled for hours with the post because the post was created for me. That might appeal to others because it’s an easy post. You’re provided the images and the text. That stifled me, and I hated it. I couldn’t change anything about the post or the wording of the blurb. I ended up deleting the entire thing and apologizing to the authors as I backed out of the scheduled posting. I don’t post unless I have something new to say. I can’t post the same thing over and over because it bores me. If it bores me, it must bore others. I need different.

I don’t know the reason why I’m like this. I was told years ago that I was raising my boys to be just like me. Like that’s a bad thing? That’s fucking awesome, isn’t it?!  My boys will make two lucky young women incredible husbands one day because they are special and unique. They’re both creative, too. They both write. They write fiction like I do. Their Dad writes, too, but he is more of a political commentator. My sons always have cameras in their hands, and they create, edit and post their own train pictures and videos on their own YouTube channels. Train-watching or rail fanning is a different hobby. They take a lot of flack for standing trackside filming, filming, filming, but they love it. They’ve loved trains all of their lives.

From birth, we’re encouraged to fit in. We’re urged to go along and be like everyone else. It’s easier for teachers to teach if the kids are all marching to the same drummer’s beat. I’ve experienced it myself in both school and the working world. Differences are frowned upon. They make you stand out in the hall if you talk during class. In my day, girls even had to have a note from home saying it was okay to wear pants! Ink and body art are frowned upon. Some jobs require you to keep them covered. It’s in the employee manual where I work, but no one reinforces it, thank God. I’ve steered two beautiful and unique young men through a narrow-minded school system that didn’t appreciate differences. I bit my tongue many times when I would have loved to tell off teachers and administrators who sought to bend the child to the mold. Unless you attend a school of the arts or work at an advertising agency, individuality and creativity are squashed instead of encouraged. That’s a damned shame.

Individuality and difference are good. Different is pink hair, a creative mind, metal music, tattoos and a huge heart. Different is worth taking the time to explore and get to know. Different makes the world go round. Why be normal when you can be Goddamned different from others? Who the hell wants to be like everyone else? I don’t.