In the New York City of my adolescence, oddball and eccentric behavior was both welcomed and encouraged. I thought nothing of wearing neon fishnets under my ripped jeans and layering Catholic schoolgirl skirts with vintage lace blouses, leggings and Doc Martins. Conformity was a four-letter word, a disease best left to adults, or those that had the unfortunate condition of living in the (gasp!) suburbs.
And now, at 37, I live in the suburbs. I am nothing like my housewife neighbors, with their bedazzled capris and designer bags and bleached hair and penchant for gardening and sharing recipes and hosting Southern Living kitchenware parties. I stand out. I have bright red hair and an affinity for wearing vintage sequins while fetching my dry cleaning. I am pale, refusing daily trips to the tanning salon. Instead of scrapbooking and organizing neighborhood potlucks, I skulk around thrift stores. And I have many, many visible tattoos. I get looks when I venture into my suburban neighborhood - second glances, curious side-eye, or blatant, outright staring. And the majority of this eye contact isn't exactly friendly. A trip with my kids to the mall yesterday resulted in so much staring that I felt embarrassed, even ashamed, by the time I left.
It takes considerable courage to be different. Of course, being different extends far beyond what you chose to wear, or whether you have tattoos. Being different means embracing the opportunity to chose where your heart leads you. It can also include the freedom to start doing what you love, following the things you are interested in, and discovering the things you've always wanted to find.
When I got home from the mall, I jumped on the computer to try and figure out others handled being different. I found that the key to embracing your uniqueness, the things that make you different, is self-acceptance. Self-acceptance means being loving and happy with whom you are NOW. It is an agreement with yourself to appreciate, validate, accept and support who you are, even those parts you’d like to eventually change. Self-acceptance is the willingness to embrace all the things about you that make you different, regardless of how you might compare to others.
When you lack self-acceptance, you’re more likely to struggle with low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and problems in relationships. The refusal to love and accept yourself might lead you to believe that you’re not rich enough, beautiful enough, loved enough, lucky enough, or successful enough. It might lead you to doubt who you are, and entice you into conformity.
Being different may set the stage for a lifetime of side-eye. But it's what makes you, you. You should be different. If there weren't people different from you, you would not be an individual.
So what makes you different? What are your quirks? Have you ever faced criticism for being different? Do you enjoy feeling different, or are you more comfortable blending in? Leave a comment, and share the things that make you different here!
|Thrifted The Limited silk blouse; Gap bra; thrifted Escada skirt; Lucky Brand wedges; TIKKR watch, Charming Charlie bracelets|