One of the Crowd

I have always hated being one of the crowd. For as long as I can remember, it was always imperative to me to maintain some semblance of difference from the “unwashed masses” who listened to the same music, who read the same books, who did the same things in their spare time.

I fought hard against being the same as anyone else. If you told me everyone liked the color blue, I would have told you I hated it (even though I have no feelings whatsoever for the color blue). If you told me everyone was drinking white wine, I would have preferred red, for no other reason than that everyone was drinking white.

Of course, after a time, this default setting of mine to be different made me forget that sometimes I really did agree with the majority. Sometimes I found myself swaying to Britney Spears, reading and enjoying John Grisham novels whilst drinking white wine. Sometimes I found myself hating that I loved something, simply because everyone else loved it and that made me normal.

That’s the crux of the thing, of course. I have never wanted to be normal. That was like a swear word to me from day one. I wanted to be seen as different, as being somehow apart from whatever was going on in society. I wanted people to look at me and see someone special, not just because “everyone is special,” but because I really and truly was. I railed against everything considered normal, saving my real thoughts for the privacy of my singular company.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20’s before I realized just how much the whole act of “not being normal” took away from me. I was always the guy who “discovered” a new band, and when the majority found them too I was out, and on to the next thing. I was always the one who had a brilliant idea, and when everyone started listening to it decided it was passe, and I was on to the next thing.

So, when I realized it was detrimental to me and my well-being, I wanted to push away from it. I wanted to embrace whatever I liked, no matter how others felt about it, but I didn’t know how. I had this whole thing ingrained in my brain for so long it was like I forgot what I really did and didn’t like. I had to retrain my mind and my mouth to adjust to a brave new world. It was like facing my fears and coming out on the other side.

It was brutally difficult. But eventually I did it. Eventually I admitted to being the biggest Taylor Swift fan on the planet. Eventually I decided I did like ketchup with my fries. Eventually I became more confident in my choices, regardless of how many or few people liked whatever those individual choices of mine happened to be. I made my peace with everything about me.

And I am special, but so is everyone else. My pride in myself can’t be contingent upon how obscure my preferences are. That’s no way to live. No one can live like that and be satisfied. That’s what it boils down to — I wasn’t satisfied with who I was portraying myself as, with the person I always had the power to banish from my world. I just had to make it happen, and the whole world opened up to me.

It’s okay to be one of the crowd.

Sam

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