I’m different. I’m not going to try and convince the world that when it comes to people, I am the ‘status quo’ (I’m not) and that I have more similarities with everyone else than differences (I don’t). I don’t actually believe that ‘everyone else’ really exists. Sure, most people can walk…is that the common trait we measure against? Language? Education? Belief systems? Hair colour? This world is diverse and what I’ve really come to love about people is not just their differences but also the confidence they have to own those differences; the confidence to be happy with who they are. It takes courage to be an individual.
I’m not sitting here trying to say that I think I’m a courageous individual. Throughout my adult life I’ve allowed myself to be heard, be a bit quirky and stray slightly from what would be considered ‘normal’ for my family and upbringing. But, before my injury, as a twenty-something-white-able-bodied-wife-and-mama-of-three I could blend in pretty well and that is mostly what I tried to do…super courageous right? Since my injury I have been told I have courage and I suppose I can allow myself that description to a point. But life has made decisions for me – unfair, frustrating, one-sided decisions – and I have to go on. So I go on. I go on realizing that if I’m going to be seen as different then I might as well be different with some confidence. As hard as it can be to put on a smile a lot of days and share my life with honesty, it gives me strength to know that owning my visible difference might give someone else the confidence to own theirs too…visible or invisible.
As for the damage I’m possibly doing to my children by sharing so honestly…I hope it’s minuscule (the goal is to keep them out of life long therapy right??) In all seriousness, I actually really hope my children benefit from having a ‘not normal mama’ (someone should) and that it can help them appreciate the things that make others unique. I hope they can find confidence in their own idiosyncrasies and that they will nurture their quirks into adulthood; use them to their advantage. I hope it makes them tolerant and helps them to encourage others to find confidence in themselves. I hope their mama who is ‘different’ will inspire them to provoke necessary change in the world. Above everything else, I hope they know I did my best to be their mama – even though I’m different.
Diversity is a big topic in the world right now and it’s so important to approach it carefully. In the last 11 months I have learned that being seen as ‘different’ can be really intimidating. There is ignorance in the world to those of us that live outside the box of ‘normal’. But like I said before, I don’t think normal exists and if we tried to fill that ‘box of normal’ with people based on who they are inside…we’d have an empty box. Clearly I wouldn’t make it inside the box based on appearances or personality so I’ll be over here in my own little box being semi-confidently different.