I’ve always been a little different.
I was a bookworm while everyone else sat in front of the television. I was the first person in my mother’s family to graduate from college.
My family welcomed these differences.
Then other things started to happen that made them go hmm and that made me feel like I was hatched from another egg.
I chopped all of my hair off while everyone else had relaxers.
“You walkin around lookin all bald headed,” was how some of my family chose to respond.
I got a few piercings and tattoos.
“Why are you doing this to me?” my mother cried.
I went on a meditation retreat to clear my head after being laid off.
“Meditation, you a hippie now? You gonna come back chanting and shit?”
I expressed issues with feeling down and depressed.
“That’s that white people shit. Just pray,” is what I was advised to do.
I believe the bigger the hair, the higher the heels, the closer to God. No words, just side-eyes from everyone in jeans and tees.
Though I’m naturally petite, I started exercising and eating healthy. “You looking frail. Let me fix you a plate,” says the women in my family who are close to the 200 pound range.
I work in a creative field.
“When are you going to get serious about a real career?” says all of the blue collar folks.
You get the picture. I don’t fit the mold. I’m no better than anyone (we’re all special in our own way, some of us just choose to show it more), but I’m just different from the people I share the same last name with.
I’m aware most of my decisions elicit some type of criticism or a series of rapid fire questions as to why I do what I do. Why I am this way.
I like to think I was born with glitter in my veins. I explore, I’m not afraid of change, I don’t believe in conventional anything. I want more out of life than what I’ve been told I have to accept.
Of course anything that’s different is going to face some opposition and I can take the jokes and jabs from the family. I take it as a sign of growth. They’re adjusting to their little “Chipmunk” or their “Scrappy” unapologetically two-stepping to her own percussion.
This is me. This isn’t a phase.
However lately, the taunts I used to take with a grain of salt now weigh heavier on me.
Like most 20-somethings, I’m confused on a daily basis. I feel like I should “have it together” by now but I’m far from that place. I don’t even know what that place looks like. Some days I’m as self assured as can be and other days I literally say “who are you?” when I look in the mirror.
With such an uncertain state, any ribbing from those who know be better than anyone feels extra raw.
The differences I once embraced now feel like they’ve created distance. They look at me as if I’m a stranger. Some odd fruit that just stumbled upon a family gathering years ago and never left.
I want to be me, but still feel connected to my root. Connected to the people who I run home to when life gets too hard. The people who would rain down a swift hurting on anyone who tries to hurt their Chipmunk.
Trust me, my family is awesome. The love is there. The understanding isn’t.
When you’re pink in a sea of black and white, you just want another bold hue to come along and give a wink and a nod that they get it. Or maybe you just want the black and white folks to let you be without any judgement.
Of course this feeling isn’t unique to me. Maybe it’s your sense of adventure, style or even your sexuality that cause you to be the oddball from those who know you best.
So how do you handle being the pink sheep of the family? Do you feel insecure at times? What ways do you embrace your uniqueness?