Why you should appreciate being different from everyone else

Why you should appreciate being different from everyone else

I’m a Buzzfeed freak. I can spend hours sitting in front of the computer watching (and re-watching) videos. What I noticed about Buzzfeed is that the people they feature in their videos are made up of diverse ethnicities and orientations. They place a high level of value in embracing differences. Nobody looks, talks or acts the same.


Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for us. We live in a society where ‘hive mentality’ plays a big role in shaping how we think. If you took a rock and threw it at a random person, chances are you’d hit a girl who: a) has uber-straight Korean eyebrows (badly-shaped); b) wears cropped tops and tiny shorts; c) wears New Balance sneakers; and d) wears iris-enlarging contact lenses. Everybody looks the friggin’ same these days.


And it’s not just girls – guys are also guilty of Stepford wife outfits like plain-coloured tees with statement printed pockets, shorts with rolled-up cuffs and moccasins. Oh, and throw in a pair of Ray-Ban wayfarers while you’re at it, one must look hipster at all times.


When I was in my teens, I struggled with the concept of self-expression. At 14, my classmates hung out in big groups. They worshipped brands like Body Glove and Padini. They wore the same clothes and used the same bag to tuition classes. They spoke in a certain way and used the same choices of words.


It wasn’t that I wasn’t friends with them, but when it came to making outfit-related choices (note that during my time, wearing makeup at 15 was frowned upon, because that was a long time ago and people had yet to become open-minded and I lived in a kampung where things were generally more conservative), I wasn’t cool. Actually I was far from being cool. I was the girl who used a clear bag studded with flowers to school. I was the girl who collected love-related quotes from books. I was the girl who memorized dialogues from my favourite movie, 10 Things I Hate About You, and could recite them verbatim.


I liked boys, but they didn’t like me back. Looking back, I was somewhat of a weirdo; a bit on the milder side, but nonetheless still a weirdo. I remember thinking for a long time about how I could make myself more popular among boys (because hey – who wasn’t jealous of the most popular girl in class who got flowers on V-day whereas my friend and I had to make a pact and gift each other things just so we didn’t feel left out), and I would always come up short.


All the magazines I religiously read told me that I should ‘be myself’. And look where that got me. I was unpopular, painfully single and had no secret admirers. Life sucked. That was my mantra for a long time. A lot of my diary entries started with those two words.


Throughout high school, I was in the Science stream. I loved English classes but hated Physics and Chemistry. I made up stories in Biology exams because I couldn’t seem to remember the theories. After I finished Form 6, my Biology teacher asked me what course I wanted to take up in university. I said I wanted to study Mass Comm. Although she hid it well, I still remember her initial reaction. It was a mixture of shock and disgust. Everyone just assumed that if you were a Science stream student, you would go on to study medicine/law/biochem/engineering.


Even though my parents had their reservations towards my studying communications, they finally gave in and I got what I wanted. After graduating, I told them that I was secretly happy I didn’t get into the Chem Engineering course at UTP because I might have killed myself halfway through. I salute girls who are in engineering.


This year, I will be 30. I no longer use clear, flower-studded bags, but I have a panda-shaped bag that is obviously too young for my age. I don’t have a branded wallet/handbag. I no longer collect love quotes from books, but I have moved on to collect books and other unnecessary things that take up unnecessary space at home. I have developed a soft spot for cats, but not babies. I no longer memorize quotes and recite them verbatim, but I talk to myself in the car and sing at the top of my lungs when an Adele/Sam Smith song comes on.


I am different, but I am happy. I am happy because I am different. You should be, too.




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