Daring to Be Different

What other words enter your head when I mention the words “different” or “alternative”? How would you feel if somebody used the words “different” or “alternative” to describe you? Would you see it as a condemnation, implying you are somewhere you don’t belong, or would you see it as a compliment, implying you are creative or individual? In the past twelve months, I’ve steadily progressed from the former to the latter.

Twelve months ago, I was a lot more reserved than I am today. I was quite defensive when in the company of others, and kept parts of me hidden that I didn’t want anybody to know. I even invented things just to fit in – truth be told: I really don’t care about football. I was just so worked up about creating the right impression, believing that the real me was just a flawed and socially-unacceptable mass. There was actually nothing wrong with me, just part-and-parcel of being an introvert, and the more I came to accept my introversion, the less I had to pretend and the less it bothered me. The tiny handful of strong relationships I have are of exponentially more value than all the casual acquaintances.

Can you spot the person who's into Extreme Black Metal. Bet you can't!
Can you spot the person who’s into Extreme Black Metal. Bet you can’t!

When I’m at work, I kind-of just blend in. The company dress code means I don’t look noticeably different to anyone else, I get on with my work just like everyone else, and at lunchtime, I do what introverts usually do and grab some all-important me-time away from my desk. I am my true self the whole time I’m in the office, but the avenues for self-expression are rather limited – I am on company time, after all. Outside of work, when I’m no longer bound by company policy, the true self becomes noticeably visible; in other words: I look different. Ever seen a man wandering around the Midlands wearing a kilt? If you have, it was probably me. I could NEVER have done that twelve months ago.

The "Utility Kilt". Smart-Casual with a Celtic twist.
The “Utility Kilt”. Smart-Casual with a Celtic twist

Being among a tiny minority of kilt-wearers in the Midlands (I don’t assume I’m the only one) has taught me one thing: nobody really minds “different”. The people who know me best already accept me for who I am, and they’re the only people who matter. Pretty-much everybody else is too busy concentrating on their own little agenda so, if I’m not breaking any laws or causing any harm, nobody’s really minds. A few may giggle or make silly remarks, but that’s either jealousy or ignorance at work. I found expressing this more visibly-adventurous side of me got easier the more I kept at it – my self-consciousness continually decreased over time, and I became more comfortable in my surroundings.

If you’ve had any similar experiences, or if you feel you are struggling to be the real you, feel free to leave a comment below.

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One thought on “Daring to Be Different

  1. I can so relate to whatever you’ve said. I had a similar experience while in college, which I still regret because if I had dared to be different, it would’ve been a much more colorful experience for me. However, now I’m much more comfortable being me, regardless of other people’s opinion, so cheers to that! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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