Growing up, people would always ask, “What do you want to be when you’re older?” The answer was easy when I was little.
I would go through my (limited) mental inventory of impressive “grown-up” occupations and most often settle on the crowd-pleasing roles of doctor or lawyer. Granted, for a time, I thought law might be the way to go for me.
Reflecting back now, however, I wonder if any part of my decision was mine or just the result of my innate desire to please my friends and family.
I have always deemed myself as a "black sheep."
The idiom is nestled deep in my arsenal of reasoning for why I was never good at fitting in.
As one of those pesky creative types, I worked best with fellow oddballs and other chronically shy personalities. (I'm sure you can imagine the riveting conversations I've had.)
I had to work that much harder to assimilate with the masses, and I never really found common ground with my peers.
While it was comforting to know I wasn’t the only odd (wo)man out in the crowd, there was always that pulsing urge to just shut it all off and join the herd.
It can be a very lonely experience when you grow up struggling to relate to those around you.
As I reached my adolescence and young adulthood loomed around the corner, I started to find my groove.
It helped that the times were changing and most people around me had bigger fish to fry than the shy girl with the sketchpad in the corner.
I gravitated toward people who embraced my black-sheep tendencies; I let go of that shy girl and adopted a sense of confidence.
Now, hitting something of a stride in my adulthood, I find myself beyond thankful for the qualities that once seemed to stall me.
It isn’t so much that the world started to see me differently as time passed, but more so I adopted a different attitude while looking at the world.
Where I once saw those I deemed as “lucky” for fitting in, I now just saw people — people just like me.
They were fighting their own demons and working out how to become the best versions of themselves.
No one was against me, and the only person who had ever perpetuated my label of “black sheep” was myself.
It had been a verbal comfort blanket of sorts, adopted early on to help me from ever feeling too lost or abnormal.
Google defines a revelation as, “A surprising and previously-unknown fact, especially one made known in a dramatic way.”
I’ve always defined it as a moment when you pull your head out of your ass long enough to see the light. I suppose we both have our points.
My revelation didn’t come as swiftly as Google would have it defined, but it did come, albeit in small doses.
What I discovered is this: We are all black sheep. There isn’t a person alive who doesn’t have spots painted on her in some way; who doesn't have some marking that reminds her she is unique.
While comfort most often results from joining others, what we should be taking comfort in is our innate inability to act as clones.
Own everything that sets you apart, and push yourself to every boundary you can imagine. Be thankful you aren’t a copy — a mere reproduction of something else.
You simply couldn’t be because you, like me, are the real thing, the original.
In a world with no time for sequels or second chances, embrace the weirdo within as early on as possible, and milk those unique gifts for everything they're worth.