Monday, 13 November 2017

Being ‘different’ is a real curse

'Dedicated to all the 'different' ones out there, regardless of where they are from, and to my late friend Heidi who always told me to cherish my different identity'

From my arrival to UK, one of the things I enjoyed the most was to have the privilege of wearing whatever I liked, without necessarily being shunned by the rest of society. This was something I felt strongly about, because before leaving Italy I had completed a 7-year streak working for fashion designers companies. In these companies, an invisible dress code was the accepted rule for all the employees. I say invisible because it was not written in any contract, but if you didn’t conform to it, chances were your employment contract was not going to be renewed. This invisible dress code meant that the employee had to spend a crapload of money in clothes and shoes to be ‘like the rest of the staff’, regardless of their job titles. Not necessarily these clothes had to be made by the same brand we were working for, but that was a plus, of course. This also meant that all my wages earned in two years and a half (length of my employment in the first fashion company I worked for) got wasted for the invisible dress code.

Yet, to my own disappointment and even surprise, I had to learn that 'being different' was not just a curse in Italy but it is a curse pretty much everywhere and it is just much more than wearing stuff nobody else likes or approves of.
It is a whole bunch of things that nobody likes of you; it is being discriminated against or shouted at even in discussions with friends; it is being shunned because of your race, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, weight, looks, etc. that set you apart from the mass. I took clothes as an example because wearing some particular clothes rather than others is a way to conforming; they are your way to fit in, your claim to cultural uniformity with the mass. You’re actually telling everybody that ‘hey I’m like you’ and you can be approached by everyone, without fearing that others will wag their fingers at you like you’ve just got the plague. This custom is even unrelated to real social standing, type of work or class sometimes.

Now all the above does not include race in my case, as I could never speak for a group I don’t belong to; I am totally aware of my white privilege though, as it is a very big advantage in life from the start. If I spent all my life fighting against bigots of every nature, at least I didn't have to fight against racists attacking me (although I always fought against racists, generally speaking!).
However, I’ve always identified differently in terms of ‘personality’. I never gave a crap to be born a woman, being told off because 'I was a woman' didn't compute with me. I didn't like fancy dresses as a child and I didn’t dream to be a princess whilst I was a little girl. I wanted to drive race cars or motorcycles, fly jets, be at a ship’s wheel or fly into space as an astronaut. Heck, I wanted to be a piano player at 5 and I wasn’t allowed because I was too poor.... and a woman! I was reading at 3 and by the time anyone else started primary school and they had started to read ‘I am blah blah’ I was already reading whole books and consulting a dictionary. 
 I got kicked out of catechism when I was 8 because the catechist was trying to teach us how our world started and I went to the following session branding an astronomy book and telling the lady that she might be mistaken about this ‘God’ she was talking about because Earth is part of the universe and you know, it all started with the big bang! If she was gifted with any critical thought she might have answered that God had created the universe, but only because I dared to speak out and against what I was told, needless to say... I was subsequently grounded and treated as a heretic. At 8 years old LOL

All the above (plus a lot more I won't get into) made me a ‘different’ one, which was and is the biggest fault ever apparently. I ended up wasting years trying to fit in and conform to rules that might have been acceptable for anyone else but not for me. They made me feel like I was in jail all time. ‘Don’t do this, don’t say that’ was the daily portion of wisdom I was administered. I was the ‘wrong’ one. And after all this time, years, I’m still the wrong one, disliked, sometimes despised and treated like the unpleasant one, even if they don’t know me personally. 

I embody the voice that is singing out of the choir, because I don't fear the backlash to my opinions if I can articulate them well. Unfortunately, despite all the 'freedom of speech' paraded, for many it is easier to argue in favour of xenophobes, sexual predators, fascists and racists they don't personally know than actually defending an acquaintance or a friend who tells you something different.

How bad is that? If there is something I never conformed to is the 'sheep flock' attitude.
Many people reject the concept of personal identity. Personal identity for many does NOT exist because everyone is supposed to conform to some rules of society or background.

Look at some of the most common prejudices about 'being different':

- If you were born in Britain, you are supposed to feel British; if not, you are a traitor. Same for every other nationality.

- If you are white, going against white supremacy makes you instantly a left luvvie (even if you have actually never voted in your life!)
If you are born Catholic, you must be at least a bit religious.
- If you are adopted by two gay people, you have to become miraculously gay.
- If you are dressed like a poor person, you are considered homeless even if you've a job and a roof to sleep under.
- If you are multilingual people side-eye you like you are a CIA agent.
- If you are born in a famously beautiful country (like Italy), people immediately assume you're some sort of rogue because you have abandoned it.
- If you are a rape or abuse victim, regardless of the fact that people believe you or not, they slowly detach themselves from you as they think you are 'weak or tainted' (personal experience!)

This is so sad, isn't it? Why is it so difficult for people everywhere to adopt an attitude of 'live and let live'?
How more beautiful our world would be if we were all discussing and taking into account different people exist?
I am so disappointed in mankind...  

Have a nice #WorldKindnessDay

Merlin x

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