Skip to main content

different

Someone recently sent me a meme about tattoos. I reminded them that I have over half a dozen, although none in such obvious places as the picture. I thought about it while I washed my hair, and how once my hair was also purple, and what kind of memes could be found about that. And also, my nose was pierced. Other than the first two tattoos, none of these were things I did in my youth. All were in my thirties.


Currently my hair is a plain brown in a sensible cut. My tattoos all easily hidden with most clothing and only my ears are pierced. As this decade closes I have made efforts to dress more professionally, drink less, stay on top of the laundry although I still refuse to make my bed and talk at an appropriate volume level. Yet, I only looked back on my purple-haired days with longing rather than regret.


See, I used to do those things to be different.  


Sometimes I’d feel just a little trapped by my suburban life although perfect, felt a little too predictable. I felt like I was going to lose myself in Starbucks cups, Target bags and privilege. Other times I just wanted to feel different. I didn’t know how, so I’d at least find a way to mark it. I’d mark it on my wrist or the top of my foot with a symbol to remind me. I’d go buy a box of just a tad too red hair dye and hope that looking different would be the same as feeling it.


In either case, I was no different than before...I just had some new ink or a bad dye job.


I’m glad for every permanent mark, I have and I’ve learned that hair always grows back as you are not who you want to be. Marks, be it tattoos or scars, always tell a story. This I know. I can’t promise to never get another tattoo or always keep my hair close to my natural color, but I will tell you that I feel very differently about wanting to be different. I don’t need to feel that way anymore.


People who want so desperately to be different, never really have been.
When you actually are, all you want to feel is just like everyone else.


At least that has been the case for me.


A year and some months ago I remember feeling isolated in so many ways. I don’t know anyone in real life who has the diagnosis I have and could have really used a friend to sit down and have coffee with an ask a million questions to. I hurt physically and emotionally in ways I never had before. All I wanted was for someone to relate. I felt different and isolated in the worst way because I actually was.


My differences were actually easier than most because for the most part no could spot them on the outside. No one could judge me for them. No one could kick me out of church or deny my rights. I found groups of people like me online. It is no cup of coffee or hug, but occasionally I have a forum to ask questions to or just scroll through when I feel pain.


Growing up there is a such a tension between wanting to be different, but not so different that we weren’t like everyone else. Wanting to be you, but wanting to fit in. To still have a place. To still feel accepted and included.  Teenagers constantly walk in this tension. I guess I took a little longer to grow up than most. I don’t mind. You have to be at least 18 to get a tattoo anyways. And I probably needed to be at least 30 to be able to afford it.

Not always, but for a long time now, I have made an effort to love people who are different than me. To include them. To march for them. To learn from them. I actually prefer it and the more I listen the more I realize how un-different we are.  I’m pretty boring and can use all the perspective I can get. I still think it is a place where I fail all the time. I want so desperately to be different, but am sometimes afraid of it. Afraid of what to say. Or do. Or doing it wrong. That it will rub off on me.
Afraid that other people will judge me as different as well.


God, I hope they do.

Even if my hair is brown.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

preachers and parades.

Months ago, I sat in a pew and tried to not think about the fact that you could count on one hand the number of white congregants in the room.
And I was one of them.
 I did not want to draw attention to myself, but despite the fact that I have been to church most Sundays of my life, I had no idea what to do. When to sit, stand, pray or the lyrics to any of the songs. The rules here seemed so different than my own church, just a few miles away. Filled with people who mostly looked like me.
 A few elderly African American women were seated next to me and were kind enough to attempt to make me feel welcome and tell me what to do. At some point Eunice, in a bright purple dress, slid her arthritic hand on top of mine, squeezed and tugged me to the front to pray.
 I let her lead me, because I didn’t how else to respond, and because she seemed so genuinely glad that I was there, singing off key next to her.

 It was not lost on me, that my slight discomfort was one of choice and ended just …

The annual REAL Christmas letter

One of my favorite traditions for a decade has been to sit down and try to write a REAL Christmas letter.  Not just the highlights, but a few honest moments as well. It started as a joke with one of my friends, thinking how refreshing it be for people to share more than just their perfect lives that we are used to seeing on Facebook and Instagram. It would be way more truthful and a whole lot more entertaining. Last new year, I had a friend ask me to come up with a word for 2018. I joked that my word was just going to be “done”. I was partly kidding, partly serious. The year ahead seemed daunting rather than full of promise and resolutions.  I had so many things to finish in the upcoming year that I needed to be “done” with: my degree, my job and my thirties. A few weeks later, my friend showed up with one of those string bracelets with the metal word “done” hammered in the middle. I wore it often, especially in those home stretches. Not taking it off until I had my last chapter writte…

game day

“But I don’t want to go to soccer, I’m tired”
says the boy who has been running circles around the living room for the last hour.

“No, I don’t want to wear my jersey”
says the same boy that slept in his uniform just last week.

And so I do what any good mom would do, which is start bribing my kid.
I promise him ring pops or pizza or new toys for having a good attitude, listening to his coach and trying his best.
But those things are not quite enough to make him eagerly lace up his cleats.

Owen actually loves soccer practice.
And is one of the best dribblers on the teams.
And he loves kicking the ball around the living room and in the front yard.
But games days are hell.
Instead of being a proud momma on the sideline snapping pictures
I am usually trying not to cry.
Because Owen has realized that he isn’t really good at it.
That the other kids are bigger and faster and score more goals.

And today his team won. And they haven’t won many games.
And they cheered and lined up eagerly for patches and sna…