So, who wants to be the same anyway? #StrikingMums

By | October 4, 2014

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“Different not less” is a quote from Doctor Temple Grandin, a woman with autism who grew up in an unsympathetic predominantly male environment and overcame prejudice and her limitations to become a renowned animal specialist and an author. For anyone wishing to know more about the autistic spectrum from the inside out, I would recommend the film of the same name.

Yes, you could describe our family as “different”, but who wants to be the same as everyone else? If everyone was a carbon copy of everyone else, wouldn’t it be boring? Would we have all those wonderful inventions now if someone, somewhere hadn’t persevered and strived to create something, adjusting and perfecting until they were satisfied?

That’s what I tell my children anyway, being different is a good thing, it’s individual.

But I also know how being different can not feel so good, the other side of the coin.

Growing up in the male single parent family was hard in the Berkshire suburbs, we were the only products of a broken family and we stood out. I expect there was curtain twitching when we moved in and all started in a school, me in the middle of year 5, an already shy girl anyway but those differences make me even more so.

Secondary school was easier, the wider community meant that there were new friends to be made, generally almost always with those who also seemed “different”. We found we had things in common. I also found an outlet in which to express myself – that of music , I could really identify with the lyrics of certain songs and I would also write down my feelings, not as a diary, but more of an occasional outburst (hey, a bit like blogging now!)

Differences continued as I got older, not for me the accountancy path that the rest of the family followed, the thought of number-crunching all day was awful, I’ve never been much of a study-fiend either so further exams (in something I found very boring) did not appeal. I do love things like Sudoku though and looking for patterns in numbers so it’s in there, somewhere. I wanted to study something that interested me like HR, initial tests in that showed that I had a high degree of empathy – which one HR person told me could count against me, that I “cared too much about others” and then I got pregnant with T and didn’t return. Thinking back that quote from the HR person probably said more about her than me.

I’m not a “wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care” person, life might be easier if I was. But I am happy now being me. I’ve find my own little niche, my blog and my own little corner of the stratosphere.

I walk past a secondary school to get to D’s school (not the one where T goes) and there are always groups of girls, all striving to be individual but looking the same with their straightened hair, their contoured faces and their adaption of the uniform code. I also see those who aren’t part of a flock, they may have curly hair, or glasses, or have red hair and am grateful that I’m not at school in this age of social media and also that I have a daughter who is very comfortable in her own skin, who has the freedom to dress how she wants at her SN school (pink and sparkly usually) and that she won’t experience that feeling of not quite fitting in.

I like the fact that I can walk along with my ear worms, after dropping D off and no-one knows what I’m listening too. I might look like a middle-aged mum with tendencies for Phase Eight clothing but inside those ear worms could be a bit of anything (usually with a bit of a drum break).

Different? Yes.

Quirky? Most definitely.

Protective of my children? For sure, I have a tendency to rear up like a lioness if either of them are wronged or threatened, that shyness diminishing rapidly and then returning.

Happy in my own skin? Ummm, most of the time. Sure there are things I would change but wouldn’t everyone?

I say to T and D that the people who bully are those who don’t feel comfortable with themselves, that they only feel happy when someone else is hurting, either physically or emotionally and they both recognise that in children at their schools.

Being individual and “different” can be a good thing but when you have special needs children, its always beneficial to speak to other parents/carers to get that empathy and then we can all feel “different” together.

Linking up this little ramble with Kate for Striking Mums.

Kate on thin Ice Striking Mums
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8 Comments

Hannah on 4th October 2014 at 2:54 pm.

Great post, you sound very fun happy strong and caring. I’m quite shy too so I get some of your post. I know what you mean about the school girls, they’re so determined to be different they all look the same! I’m so pleased your daughter is happy I herself and her school 🙂 x

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Jeannette on 4th October 2014 at 8:52 pm.

Thanks, it’s taken D a while but she has a quitr electic way of dressing, I was all dark and goth ish and she is pink! Extremely pink! It’s lovely to see 🙂

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rebecca beesley on 4th October 2014 at 8:24 pm.

There is such a lot of wisdom in that – especially that bit about feeling different together. When I saw kate’s title this week – i also thought of that Temple Grandin book. #strikingmums

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Jeannette on 4th October 2014 at 8:50 pm.

Thanks Rebecca, the Temple Grandin film is such an amazing insight to, a film that stays with you for a long time.

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Fiona on 4th October 2014 at 8:26 pm.

I do get your point. However it is possible to be comfortable in your own skin and still follow the latest fashion. My 13 year old daughter likes her hair straightened as much as D probably likes her glittery style. But S would be one of the girls you wld judge for not having an individual style. As much as S likes the latest fashion she wld not judge anyone else for their choices and is friends with a wide circle of people (and incidentally she wld love to wear glasses but has no need to!).

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Jeannette on 4th October 2014 at 8:48 pm.

Thanks Fiona, my comment about the hair etc was a very general one. I’m not one to judge, I’m in no position to and would rather get to know someone before forming an impression.
Tell S her glasses time will come, mine didn’t happen until last year and it’s certainly arrived with a vengeance!

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Fiona on 4th October 2014 at 9:42 pm.

Thanks Jeannette, I appreciate your reply. It is very hard to teach our children not to judge on face value – we all make lots of judgements each day based purely on what we see. I wish I knew the answer (apart from children learning from being on the receiving end of negative judgements – which is a horrible way to learn).

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Jeannette on 6th October 2014 at 7:21 am.

Thanks, it’s a tricky one. I guess all we can do is emphasise that everyone is individual and has feelings too.

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