I remember a friend of mine a long while back saying I was ‘unique’… I could have taken that as a bit of a negative judgement, or I could have taken it as I did, as a compliment. Unique, different, one of a kind. What makes you different stands you apart from the norm, makes you special.
I think it might have been my Dad or my parents who filled me with the self confidence that I have now. The confidence that being different Is a good thing.
I was the youngest of five and I felt like I had a lot to compete with. I felt like I wasn’t as good as them, as strong as them, or as clever as them. Or that they were better at school or academic subject than I was. And because they were all older than me, it was probably true.
The truth is that we were just different, and neither of us were ‘better’ than the others. (Although my brother would probably disagree!) We all brought our own talents and now I’ve realised that whilst I wasn’t a straight A’s student, my forte was and is, working with people.
I always floated around different groups of friends, and created a support network of people my own age as well as those older than me. I learned from them, and I also learned that being different was ok.
I started school when I was 4 and two months old, so I always felt like I was the smallest until I got to about 4th year and suddenly started outgrowing my school friends. I felt different from the start, but somehow I knew that it was ok to be different.
It’s probably one of the reasons I was so comfortable in coming out when I was 19… because a. I knew it was nobody’s business but my own and b. It was ok to be different.
My 87 year old kind of religious Granny even said it was fine, as long as I didn’t harm others, she knew I’d do myself proud in life.
I don’t go on about being gay, because it isn’t a big deal to me. It is what it is. I’ll talk about my partner but I don’t announce myself as being gay very often. Like a good vegan who doesn’t go on about it every day… that’s me, but just another way of living life.
And if it is a big deal to someone else, or if they don’t like it, then I’m better off without them. I learned that a long time ago. It’s no biggy. It’s not often I’ve had a negative reaction, and that’s likely because I society is more accepting, it’s my life and it shouldn’t be a big deal.
My Dad always taught me to respect others. We’re not religious, and I grew up in a small rural town. But I still grew up to respect all, not matter their religion, colour or creed. Be who you want to be and respect others as long as they aren’t doing others harm.
Recently I saw this adorable post on a colleagues Facebook page, where it seems that being different being a good thing is maybe being taught in schools… both Jimmy’s parents are great colleagues in work, and it looks like their great ways are rubbing off on their son…
‘… He is really cool. He is different and being differ(ern)t is cool.’ (He’s about 5 or 6).
It’s cool if this is being taught in schools, or even if it’s just the parents teaching the kid who wrote this. Difference being ok should be taught, acceptance of diversity can only be a good thing.
(Not so cool in other schools like these ones in Birmingham http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-47613578)
Now at my work, I’m one of a very diverse work force – it’s rich in types of people from all different backgrounds. I’m still one of a kind and I’ve recently heard in feedback from colleagues that my ‘positivity and enthusiasm is contagious’ in my work. It seems people see me as being ‘very smiley’ and a joy to work with.
There are a few people in my work who I’m close to. Who are different, and who, when I talk to, I get a lot from. They’re confident in themselves, opinionated and knowledgable, but open to discussion. They are like the person I want to be – enthusiastic, positive, nothing is ever too much for them. They are my reason to smile in work, my network helping me to be me.
Their honesty and truth is refreshing and helps me to get perspective in life. And hopefully I help others to smile in work too. You know who you are – the people who know me well, and help me look after myself and steer myself in the right direction.
In work, I check how people are, I genuinely care about people. I make time for people who need my help. I get reward for helping people and from making things happen. I’m the positive and calm where sometimes there is negativity or stress.
Whilst others might be self conscious of what makes them different. I’m proud of what makes me different …
The dental implants I have and bump on my nose from breaking it in a car accident… it’s made me a more cautious driver, and luckily nothing more serious happened that day, and no one else was injured. It helped me to learn to be a better driver and that life isn’t eternal, or that it can end *just like that*.
I’m happy with the choices I’ve made in life… to be healthy, happy and fit. The fact that I run and strength train a lot, I make it my own and I really enjoy it. It’s my release, my chance to be the best I can be. I don’t drink, and I couldn’t care less what people think of that. I do it for my own reasons, and it works for me, and it has for the last 10 years.
I like eating, and I like to try to get a balance in life and in most things I do. I like pizza and ice cream, and I like napping in the afternoon sometimes when I need it.
I’m not ‘proud’ to be gay as I think (and hope that) society has moved on from those times. But I am what I am, or I do what I do, and I don’t make a song and dance about it. I don’t see the point. If people don’t like it, then that’s up to them, and I’ll avoid them or leave them with their opinions.
There are so many other things that make me who I am, and it makes me different from everyone else – and that can only be a good thing. If someone doesn’t like it, or me, then stuff them. I can rise above it and know that I’m being true to me.
What is it that makes you different and why are you proud of it, or what has it helped you to learn?
Are there things you feel scared to do for fear of what others think?
Would you feel better if you just did them and made them a part of who you are? (As long as you’re not harming anyone else).
What makes you different makes you beautiful. It can help to make you be a star that sparkles that little bit brighter in the sky. And in a dark sky, it’s often nice to see the bright sparkly stars twinkle away.