It’s Okay To Be Different
January 17, 2013 by Stephanie O'Dea
Darth Vader in Barbie’s Dream House
Why are we programmed to think that it’s not okay to be different than everybody else? Why do we care so much about fitting in? Why do we worry incessantly about what other people think? Why do we try to impress complete strangers? Why does a critical statement from a casual acquaintance or even from an anonymous Internet person stick with us more than praise from a close friend?
Why do we waste time, energy, sleep, and calories trying to squeeze into an impossible-to-fill mold?
Why is there a mold in the first place?
As very young children we try to bend our personalities and our behaviors to fit into preset stereotypes — you’ve got the rambunctious toddler, the quiet preschooler, the bookworm, the artist, the jock, the social butterfly, the brainiac, the playground politician.
in college it’s the same — there are the partiers, the studiers, the rebels, the drifters, and the nerds.
When you’re pregnant, you begin searching for “like-minded” pregnancy friends. You scour Internet message boards and engage in circular arguments about whether medicated or un-medicated birth is the best. You identify whole-heartedly with a group and that becomes Your Identity.
but then things change. Complications arise. Now you’re scheduled to have a c-section. And your friends, Your Tribe, no longer sees you as a good fit. You’re the one who had a c-section. And you are starting to realize that you really had nothing else in common with this group, this tribe, this close-minded group of like-minded people.
And so after a while you look for a different group of like-minded people. Maybe it’ll be the soccer moms (no, they all wear Ugg boots and you once saw a YouTube video on how Uggs are made). Maybe it’ll be the Vegan Moms (no, they make you feel bad about giving your kids Fruit by the Foot). Maybe it’ll be the Crafty Moms (no, because they spend all their free time at Michael’s and spend more money on brown paper and raffia than you thought possible).
and so you drift some more.
Until one day, you realize that you are Happy. You are Happy with who you are —- you work out here and there, but not enough to be considered a gym rat. You eat pretty healthy, and buy organic fruit for your kids, but also buy Cheese in a Can, so you aren’t a foodie. You like HGTV but would rather watch others work than sand down the porch, so you aren’t a DIYer. You’re pretty thrifty and somewhat cheap, but loathe cutting coupons, so you could never be an Extreme Couponer.
and then you realize that not only are you Happy, you are The Normal. And categories and molds and trying to be something you are not is what’s Abnormal.
what a relief.