Embracing "Different"

different
— adj  
1.  partly or completely unlike 
2.  not identical or the same; other 
3.  out of the ordinary; unusual 

Sarah mentioned in her previous post that I have purple hair. It’s a recent thing–for the past couple of months, I’ve been experimenting with unconventional hair colors. I’m a color fanatic, and now that I’m unchained (no more desk job!) and have the freedom to look however I please, I don’t want to waste the opportunity. (Also, I just really love purple :))

Most people are complimentary about my hair color–kids especially love it–but there have been quite a few stares and “that’s…different” responses: a not-necessarily-insulting but definitely-not-complimentary reaction.

At this point, being called “different” makes me laugh, because it’s happened so often in my life. I’m the “different” one in my family–the liberal, pacifistic, pagan, tattooed lesbian who has 5,000 nicknames for her cats and likes to wear fairy wings.

Even our cats wear fairy wings. :) Meet Roane.

The truth is, I’ve never tried to be different. Never wanted to be. When I was young, all I wanted, dreamed of, prayed for was to be the same as everyone else. Maybe then the bullies would have left me alone. Maybe then I would have felt as if I belonged in this oftentimes harsh world.

Even now, at thirty-something years old, I have my moments of not-belonging. But I’ve stopped blaming myself, or feeling ashamed, for being “different.” My life fills me with so much joy. And all of my choices, all that I am, have brought me to this moment–here, now. I don’t fit some people’s conception of the “mold,” and I’m so grateful that I don’t, because if I did, I wouldn’t be where I am, who I am, and sharing my life with the most amazing (and, yes, different) person I have ever been blessed to know–my wife, Sarah.

I’m learning to let “different” flatter me rather than ruffle me. I mean, it makes sense, because I’m drawn to different people myself. I have the most wonderful, creative, surprising, brave and supportive friends anyone could ask for. People who aren’t afraid to express themselves for fear of what “they” might think about them. When you’ve been around for long enough, you begin to realize that “they” don’t matter–may, in fact, not even exist, because allof us are different, if we allow ourselves to be.

That’s what’s beautiful about the world–different thoughts, different dreams, the different manifestations of love.

I’m a shy person by nature; I shrink from attention. And I’m not especially brave. But I’m not going to cover up my tattoos or hide behind my mousy brown hair or refrain from holding my wife’s hand in public just because someone might stare, scoff, whisper, be offended, or otherwise express their disapproval. We each have one life to live, and this is how I choose to live mine. Differently, maybe, but motivated by the same things that, I think, drive us all–truth, beauty, self-expression, love.

It’s telling to me that children respond the most positively to my purple hair. They don’t know about “them” yet (or at least I hope they don’t). It gives me hope. The world is changing. The school-age generation is far more open-minded than it was during my educational years. I’m eagerly awaiting the day when a glimpse of rainbow hair doesn’t turn a head, and when the sight of two girls or boys kissing is public is as everyday and expected an occurence as the sun rising–and acknowledged, by and large, with smiles.

This post wasn’t about purple hair or even being gay; it’s about being true and chasing dreams without shame, fear or regret. Most importantly, without regret. To be perfectly honest, I was compelled to write this post by a recent, rather hurtful incident involving the word “different”–used in a derogatory manner by someone I love, against someone I love. So I began to redefine the word in my head, reclaim it, I guess, to lessen the sting and the isolation being different can inspire.

I could have played safe and stayed hidden in my quiet apartment, solitary and repressed and working my daily 9 to 5–my existence before Sarah. I could have pretended for the rest of my life. In some alternate universe, maybe I’m doing just that.

Sarah and me in Florida a couple of winters ago

But in this universe, I’m not pretending, and now I have so much more to be grateful for. 🙂

~ Jenn

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About Sarah Diemer

I write about heroic, magical girls who love girls. I drink a lot of coffee. Follow me at http://twitter.com/sediemer or find out more about my work at http://sarahdiemerauthor.wordpress.com
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28 Responses to Embracing "Different"

  1. Love. This. Post.

    Like

  2. I love this so, so, sooooo much. A thousand hearts and hugs.

    Like

  3. Jen Adam says:

    This is beautiful, Jenn. And, y’know, I think you are very brave. Quiet courage – acting in the face of fear – is no less significant than the bolder displays of bravery.

    I am so, so grateful I’ve had the chance to meet you. I ❤ you so much!

    (hugs)

    Like

  4. Gemma says:

    I too have always been different.
    I am strengthened by your quiet courage, and your deep joy in life. I seek to live with that same freedom, integrity and vitality.

    Never change a hair on your head – unless you go rainbow instead of purple 😉 You are beautiful and precious just precisely as you are.

    Like

  5. Rachel M. says:

    I loved this post and am thrilled you’ll become a regular voice on the blog. I’m sorta basking in your words. 🙂 ❤ I had a shy-girl period when I thought fitting in would save me from all the cruelty I faced in school each day. I'm glad that I had the refuge of my home to be proudly myself and that no matter how 'different' I've allowed myself to be and become, that there were always those few staunch friends and family members who loved and respected me for it. 🙂 The older I get, the less I care! 😀

    Like

    • Jenn says:

      Thank you so much, Rachel!! ❤ *hugs* My home was also a refuge for me and saved me, I think, from losing myself during the hardest years.

      "The older I get, the less I care!"
      Me, too~ growing older has some great benefits. 🙂

      Like

  6. Tara says:

    Different is awesome. When I think back to high school, all the truly interesting people–the ones who made me think, made me laugh, the ones worth keeping in touch with–were all considered “different”. And I think that’s one of the great things about the internet: not only is it easier to find people who are “different like you”, but you can also get to know someone without being biased by appearance.

    Like

    • Jenn says:

      Yes, that is such a great point about the internet and finding people “different like you”! My teenage self would have been so much happier, I think, if I’d been able to connect with people more like me–rather than being limited to the people who happened to live in my town.

      Like

  7. Sia says:

    On the rare occasions I go out to Croydon with my friends, there are guys kissing guys and girls kissing girls, and no one bats an eyelid. It’s always a huge sparkly moment for me ^^

    Wonderful post 🙂 ❤

    Like

  8. Willow says:

    Absolutely beautiful post, Jenn! I too am learning to embrace being different.

    Also, I love the purple hair! (And that pic of your fur-baby!) You and Sarah make such an adorable couple 😀

    Like

  9. Sara says:

    The great thing about this is you can share your wonderful TRUE self with the world around you and we all benefit more from that than from you hiding. Share your light, Jenn. You shine brightly!

    Like

  10. Morrigane says:

    “This post wasn’t about purple hair or even being gay; it’s about being true and chasing dreams without shame, fear or regret.”
    This made me cry.

    Thank you for writing this post. I know I will come back to it when I feel down.

    Like

  11. You are love, and I am so happy to know you.

    I can relate, in so many ways. I spent a good chunk of my life trying to fit in and be someone I wasn’t, and ended up losing myself in the process. And now, also at thirtysomething, I sometimes despair of finding who I actually am.

    You are amazing, and I wish there were more people like and Sarah in the world.

    Like

  12. Sidhe says:

    ♥ I adore this post, so much. I am so glad that you are you, Jenn and I’m so proud to know you.

    Like

  13. Cherie says:

    I am so happy I found this place. Congrats on being who you are. It’s truly lovely.

    Like

  14. Kristy Kleingardner says:

    This made me tear up.

    Like

  15. If only more people today could put out ideas similar to this. Very useful.

    Like

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