In the first of a new six-part series, comedy writer Louisa Bennett explores why standing out is better than fitting in
BY LOUISA BENNETT, IMAGE VIA BROADLY, THE GENDER SPECTRUM COLLECTION
As part of the LGBTQIA+ community, chances are that at some point in your life you’ve chosen to walk your own path. We are often told that this is a positive or brave thing to do, but nobody really talks about how it enriches your life. Instead, it sort of hovers round like an intangible pat on the back.
To fight back, I’ve written a series dedicated to highlighting the strengths of not fitting in. A celebration and shout out those who row their own boat while simultaneously marching to the beat of a different drum. A reassuring deep breath to those who have spent years feeling like they don’t fit in, and a little check in for those who are on a journey of accepting who they are.
If someone had told me as a teenager that not fitting in was for life, rather than just the teenage years, I would have happily crawled under a rock and hibernated until death. Drastic yes, but as someone who spent many years trying to fake being “normal”, resulting in an awkwardness the size of the Dubai Mall, I can readily announce that the faux-fitting-in lifestyle is exhausting.
It is only now, aged 41, that I can fully embrace walking the less trodden path and all that comes with it. It has been one wild and treacherous journey but I can now say with conviction – bring on the queer and the quirkiness! They are power and they are strength.
To demonstrate, let’s first acknowledge the obvious: embracing and accepting who you are takes the pressure off. It truly does. Instead of fighting against it and experiencing life as you are told that you should, or by trying to ram your irregular shaped self into a round hole, you can experience it as you.
It takes off the pressure to feel, think or react as Sue, Jill or Bob does. You can adapt, play around and experiment. You can explore the world as you. You can try things out, discover what you like or don’t like and moreover, us wonderful quirky types can do it with more freedom than those who walk the conventional path. We just don’t realise we can. And this is the magic part, so listen up.
Let’s say you have always been interested in standing on one leg in a meeting to enhance your listening skills, or taking the minutes with a rainbow dyed feather and ink; or maybe you want to live in a treehouse and tattoo a woodland creature scene on your forearm. You will have a much easier time doing this than say… Sue who has never strayed from the traditional path.
It is worth noting that this path could be Sue’s truth. This is not an attack on Sue’s life choices. However, if Sue fancies doing something a bit different, she might face a bit of resistance.
In fact, best-case scenario for Sue is that her colleagues think she’s having a midlife crisis and offer her a friendly ear with some time off work. Sue will probably never stray from the path again.
For us awkward, quirky types? Worst case – absolute mind-blowingly horrific gigantic scale scenario here – is that someone might just be bothered to roll their eyes, or tell you that you row your own boat.
And that right there is your strength. The freedom to explore, experiment and have fun with the world, and to do it simply because you are proud to be you.
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