The Battle To Be Different

The Battle To Be Different

I have always been a rebel. Not in the bomb throwing, earthquaking, “you-must-notice-me” kind of manner, but in the quiet…almost silent, manner. Right from birth – when I decided to overstay in the womb and tie the umbilical cord around my neck so that momma wouldn’t birth me normally. Even till Primary 3, when I stood against the societal evil of cliques and broke records by writing the “Lady Superior’s” name on the noise maker list. (She did make noise, but no one ever dared writing her name on the list). I wasn’t surprised when after she received strokes of Mr-Do-Good for the first time I could remember, she and her establishment ganged up against me. But I must say I was surprised when some girls chose to join me to fight against the tyranny of the system that put evil Mother Superior in power, and I found myself been the leader of a rebel group. Dedan Kimathi to defeat the British! And though the war lasted only one day (c’mon, we were still kids! What did you expect?), I realized the potent weapon of rebellion. And it was instantly targeted at one thing:
Tradition. Establishment. Peer Pressure. The Norm. The Rat Race. Fashion Trends. Natural Hair Craziness Among African Women These Days Led By Chimamanda Adichie Who Many Of Them Don’t Like. Whatever name it went by throughout my bildungsroman.

( Okay if you don’t understand the last word I used, I apologize. What happened was I read a post yesterday which advised writers to avoid choosing big grammar over plain English and the spirit of rebellion entered. Sad inn’it?)

And yes. For so long I have done everything to go against this monster with many faces. I have worn colour riot to prove that fashion is not trendy. I have cut my hair to rebel against the idea that girls have to be pretty. I have delved into philosophy and deep wells of intellectualism to show that children are not less intelligent than adults. I have done a lot of silent rebellion really. Some I am proud of any day, and some I just remember and shake my big head.

But recently I have been asking myself this question: ‘What exactly, is wrong with going with “the norm” if the norm is not wrong, and in fact, if the norm happens to be my personal preference?’

OK I think I should break down the question:

What exactly is wrong with wearing jeans because everyone else does it?

What is wrong with wanting to be myself just as everyone wants to be themselves?

What is wrong with going to school just as everyone else wants to?

There’s only one reason something can ever be wrong, and that’s because it is wrong. Is it sensible then to rebel against things that are not wrong just because every other person is doing it?

Motivational books and Self Help books maybe helpful, but I think this is one of the things they have failed at doing. They have emphasized so much on beating the rat race, creating your own brand… that people have forgotten to simply be comfortable in their own skin. To do what is right for them, regardless of how many other people are doing the same thing.

These days people are fighting to be different so desperately, tooth and nail, fighting against anything that seems like establishment, just like Trump was voted in because he was out of the norm.

For years, I hated pink because it was too girly for my liking. And I now ask myself… And so? These days as a writer, using clichés is an unpardonable sin because it has been used a lot and is unoriginal and I’m like… And so? Why should I be denied the privilege of expressing myself accurately in the name of creativity? Our mother tongues have been spoken for centuries before us, should we now dump them because so many have spoken it before our existence?
The air I breathe has been around for a great while, and many people have breathed it in. Does that make it less necessary?

Imagine changing the elements of the air because it has become cliché! Who would be alive?

The Sun set at the West this evening and would still do so for many years to come. Does that make each sunset unoriginal?

We are unique not because we are necessarily different from our neighbour, but because we are we. Fullstop. No need for fighting to be different. Instead, we should focus on fighting to be ourselves, to do right… even if everybody is doing the same.

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