My mother’s immortal words. Drilled into my head since I was perhaps 7 years old. Be different. And for the longest time I believed I was. That is, until I grew up met others far more different than I will ever be.
I think we all like to think we’re different in some way or another. We all like to believe there is something that makes us stand apart from the crowd, something that, in our absence, makes people remember us and say, “Hey, she used to say this…” But the truth is we are all, the most of us, ordinary. So ordinary that it makes us special. So we like to think.
These days I have been thinking of stuff like this a lot more than I usually would have and I believe it is to do with a number of new things and people in my sphere. Things and incidents that reveal to me time and again, how regular my reactions are. How utterly mundane every single part of me really is. My body, for all its imperfections, is ordinary. My mind for all the praise I receive, is really only average. My heart breaks as easily as the next person. I am not the most sensitive person on the planet as I thought, but just so-so. When I do online quizzes and tests, my answers are always the ones everyone else chooses as well. Sometimes I go back and try to redo the test to change the results. Feel mildly triumphant until I sigh, knowing it’s cheating and go back to my first answers. Yes. I am like everyone else.
And I am not always going to be the love of anyone’s life. Nor am I going to be the one that made them feel things they never felt before. I am not the most beautiful partner they have had, nor the most glamorous or tasteful, or funny or special. I’m not the first or last to touch them in a certain way. And I am not the only one who has made them feel love. I’m not. I’m just me and that is the only thing that makes me different from the rest they’ve had. Just my name. My identity, which may be my own, but is also like a million others. When they leave, I will be just another statistic, a name. Nothing more.
No, there is nothing different or special or unique about me. And sometimes there is solace in that. There are fewer expectations. No mountains to climb or valleys to cross to prove my worth or love. Never mind that I may be willing or even able to do that. I try to tell myself that it’s better this way. I have nothing to prove or live up to. But I guess if I ever wanted to be different, it is now. And this is when I have come face to face with who and what I am, and it makes me sad to sit with the facts that it doesn’t seem like very much at all.