“It’s just,” Joel struggled to find the words, “you’re very different from the rest of us.”
What was my witty response? I sighed.
Even though there’s still not a ring on my finger, Joel and I often spend hours talking on the phone about every possibility that might happen if we get married. At 11pm that night, that meant moving in with him and his 3 roommates after we tie the knot.
Sure, space and privacy wouldn’t be a problem–we could find a mansion to rent and his roommates practically live in one room anyway. The problem was, again, that I’m so different.
I’m a girl. I’m Christian. And the combination means that his friends would have to walk on eggshells around me because I don’t get their humor. Thus our discussion plunged into a thorough analysis of all the ways and reasons I’m so different. Great topic for 11:30 on a Thursday night, right? But feeling different, feeling like I don’t belong, is not new. I didn’t sigh when Joel stated the obvious because I was frustrated or hurt.
I sighed with acceptance.
I was first branded as “different” when my parents divorced and I was plucked from my home and small-town kindergarten class. They plopped me into the big city and all through elementary, middle, and even high school I did everything I could to fit in. It was pointless. Somehow I always stood out anyway.
I wore the wrong outfits. Liked the wrong foods. I tried to be a Christian when anything Christian was uncool. “Grey isn’t a color so it can’t be your favorite,” they’d tell me. I never said the right things in class, or picked the right topics for my research papers. The movies I liked weren’t the right ones, and I always had the wrong opinion. I was undeniably different.
Yet I’m not the only one.
Maggie started middle school a few days ago. Like me, she likes My Little Pony and other shows meant for little-little kids. The other night while I was babysitting, Maggie grumbled, “All my friends have seen Deadpool and 13 Reasons Why…but I still can’t.”
“Savor your childhood,” I said with a shrug, trying to look cool and not make the moment weird, yet also impart the critical message to stretch her childhood innocence as far as possible… Awkward silence followed, but her older sister nodded.
Maggie feels different, and in many ways it’s true. But from the outside, I know those differences are good.
Families sing songs on the radio about going to sex-clubs. We used to be embarrassed about leaving the house without pants, but now just we say it’s a dress. In a world that fears opposition and loves to hate, perhaps being different should be my goal, and not one of my biggest fears.
I urge you: cherish what makes you different. Is it how you dress, or talk, or think? They may call you freak, intolerant, bigot, prude, basic, weirdo, weak, or special but at its root the meaning is just “different.”
It may always sting when it’s acknowledged, but instead of being ashamed and afraid, or even angry that people think we’re different, try to be glad.
We are different, different-good.
Karianne is the founder of Windmill Ways. She plays the cello professionally and currently works as an Art Director for a charity. Because she loves animated shows and movies, she studies 3D animation and graduated with a BFA with the unfortunate class of 2020. Her dream vacation would be just staying home, but "home" being a glamorous cabin somewhere in the mountains surrounded by forest.
Favorite band: Lord Huron
Favorite book: This Present Darkness
Favorite quote: "Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail." Proverbs 19:20-21 (NLT)
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