I am different. I use the word “weird” but would also consider “unique.” I don’t mind being different…most of the time. At least, that’s what I tell myself (and others). But I suspect that deep down, I don’t like it so much.
Let’s start with my family. I was different from birth, in that my three older siblings are all boys. Also, my brothers might as well be (but are not really) named Joe, Bob, and Sam. While I might as well have been named Anuetola. No one ever misspells my brothers’ names, and yet I’ve spent my life spelling mine out to people so they get it right. No one ever mispronounces their names, but mine is always fumbled. I was always fat…at least as far back as I can remember. My brothers were not. I hated sports and being outdoors, and yet my brothers played all kinds of sports and our family vacations were often spent camping. I looked like my dad, while my brothers seemed to look like my mom or relatives on her side.
Growing up, my mother had hoped I would play with baby dolls and tea sets, but I preferred my Barbies and all their various accessories…large and small. My brothers has lots of friends, I mostly had one or two, or none. I was the loner, the quiet one, the one most likely to burst into tears. My brothers had friends and played voraciously with neighborhood kids. I excelled in school, even when I didn’t really try, while my brothers seemed to work hard and produce lesser grades. It was like I didn’t belong to my family…
As an adult, I was still the fat child while my brothers and cousins all remained average size. I was the one who took apart the computer and set the pieces out on her bedroom floor while my brothers were dating and spending time with friends. I was the female who went into a male-dominated profession, something my brothers didn’t have to contend with. I was the girl who changed the oil in her car when most women I knew didn’t know how.
The thing is, not everyone reading this will see all these as “differences,” and many of you may think these are minute and not worth noticing…but I am noticing. I was probably noticing back then, too. Does everyone feel this way? Do other people see how different they are from those around them? I know when I was an adolescent, that all I wanted to do was be “normal.” I didn’t want to be different. To me if you were different, you were not “normal”…and not normal meant wrong…and wrong meant bad.
Different meant bad.
Does it still? How many times have I told people I’m weird or different? How many times have I rushed to use the words before someone else did, like I was attempting to beat them to the punch…to prove to them and myself that being categorized that way meant nothing to me.
I’m big on semantics most of the time, I like the use the right word that means the right thing to me. Often in conversation I will define why I chose one word over another. T told me that I was unique, I said “weird.” She told me that “weird” has a negative connotation to it, but I said it didn’t for me. That I’m okay being weird. Weird is not normal. Not normal is wrong, and wrong means bad. Am I doing this to myself? Am I using these words to hurt myself purposefully?
Arg. So many questions and yet I have no answers. I don’t know! T tells me using different words produces different chemicals in your brain. Being mindful of self-talk and the things you are thinking about yourself is important because the chemicals change based on what you’re saying to yourself, or thinking to yourself. Is my brain hearing these words as negative as I have said above?
I feel like I’m spinning my wheels here because I have no answers. I can change the words I use to describe myself, but I’m not sure I believe it will make a difference.
Unique not weird.
Curvy not fat.
Different not bad.