When you do something different, you are either blessed or cursed."
The other day a friend mentioned he was the black sheep in the family. His statement resonated with me because I too have felt "different" for almost as long as I can remember.
When I was a child we had an older couple as neighbors. They owned a farm. We didn't. Every time I'd ask my parents for a pet they would say, "Go next door"!
As an only child with no pets of my own I spent a lot of time with my feathered and furry friends on that farm. I distinctly remember all their names, but especially Stormy the Golden Retriever and Pepsi the goat. The bonus was that the elderly couple had 3 grandchildren. The three boys visited often.
I got to know them. One in particular held my interest. He would talk about life through a unique perspective. His skin was darker than the other two boys- his brothers. This isn't something I recalled noticing until my dad made it clear that he did.
Eventually my dad had a conversation with me that held a negative connotation toward the fact that my favorite of the boys had dark skin. I rarely spoke up to my dad: A genius (Mensa. Seriously.), someone I looked up to (literally at 6' 3"), and commander of respect wherever he went.
But this time he was wrong.
I must've been about 8 when I said "Dad, he is a Native American. Nez Perce Indian actually." My dad's response was, "You don't want anything to do with him", which I later came to understand as racism/prejudice (since I was allowed to play with his two white brothers).
I kept my mouth shut and promised my dad I'd play with him less. I didn't keep my promise, I just made it look like I did. All the while sneaking over to the farm to play with my friend...using the animals as an excuse.
This kid was fascinating. He was adopted at three because his mom was murdered. He had vague memories of the murder as he was home and witnessed it all. He was determined in all things and I admired that. My dad was indeed wrong.
The contradictions not only in my dad but in others began adding up as I got older. A tendency for spotting life's little inconsistencies ignited something in me. I no longer listened to my parents' views or even my peers. They were background noise it seemed.
A black sheep was born.
Because of my dad's opposing reaction, I became a pro at maintaining outward appearances to appease. Certainly looking "normal" carried it's weight in society while I carried around with me the many layers beneath.
I had to make peace with knowing not all of me would be accepted or understood.
I wasn't the black sheep you might picture- no tattoos, or extra piercings (except my nose and navel- a phase I guess). I didn't draw attention to myself, never flaunting a rebel stamp on my forehead.
I was a rebel in thought.
I got to know as many "different" people as I could. They had the most fascinating stories. They inspired me and fueled my own ideas.
In my head grew a yearning to flesh out the details that lurked under the surface. Under the surface of individuals. Under the surface of collective thought in society.
When you're the only sane person, you look like the only insane person.” - Criss Jami
My parents divorced when I was ten. I moved away from the farm and into an apartment with my mom. I finally got a puppy!
I never saw my Native friend again. I was about 20 when I ran into his two brothers. They reported he was a star athlete, took a stand against drinking and drugs, helping one of his brothers get clean, and overall a very driven person in life. Good for him!
My dad's comments continued. I didn't listen. The first boy to make me blush (I guess that's called a crush) was on an African American young man in middle school. Who cared about his skin color when his striking smile and sunny disposition was all I noticed?
Looking back, thank God I fought what was said to me or I could easily be a racist. A simple act of questioning the status quo, what we're told, or the "norm" is a great start in being a rebellious thinker. Trusting out intuition means standing by ourselves sometimes. Questioning and investigating.
Everybody is eager to rub off the rough edges, avoid the controversial- they believe if they don't appeal to everybody, they appeal to nobody.
While sanding off your rough edges makes you agreeable, it's not who you truly are.
<In psychology, the black sheep effect refers to the tendency of group members to judge likeable ingroup members more positively and deviant ingroup members more negatively than comparable outgroup members.>
Choose to recognize irrational groupthink phenomenon- Avoidance of raising controversial thoughts or alternative solutions. A loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking. The black sheep take a stand. The other sheep not so much.
(If I wasn't with animals, I was watching flowers grow...I think I was better at meditating at age 8 than I am now!)
Standing alone scares a lot of people it means they have to be themselves and more often than not they haven't the slightest clue ” - Nikki Rowe
Something about my daughter the other day reminded me of my own story. She is 8. The first friend she made this new school year, at a new school has brown skin. Seeing his skin made me curious where he was from.
She invited him to her birthday party this weekend.
Out of curiosity I inquired, "What nationality is he?"
She said, "What do you mean?"
I said," Well his skin is darker."
She replies, "Oh. I hadn't noticed, but he did say he was from Hawaii."
I simply gave my little girl a big smile, happy that our conversation went a lot differently than the one between my dad and I.
I'm passionate about no-nonsense self-improvement. Too many of us are plagued by faulty thought patterns- I aim to change that!