It’s good to be different

Now is the best time in your life to be different

Last weekend, Elon Musk the autodidact, multi-billionaire Tesla and SpaceX magnate, hosted America’s Saturday Night Live show, professing to be the first person with Asperger’s syndrome to do so. His performance was slightly clunky and the admission in his introduction was meant to explain why he may not appear as super-slick as most of the many famous faces who previously enjoyed taking the coveted spot, hosting SNL.

Now, I feel, is the best time ever in history to embrace, accept and celebrate our differences. Whether you have Asperger’s, are autistic, LGBTQ, emo, punk, disabled – whatever makes you stand out from the ‘norm’ should simply be accepted. Full stop. Who wants to be plain old boring and normal anyway? Certainly not me.

Too many people today are (sadly) influenced by vile programmes like Love Island. Girls with ironed hair, false eyelashes and fake nails. They’ve had lip fillers, breast enlargements, and abide by an unspoken rule to only be seen in public caked in make-up.

Men are also sucked-in to this vain world, quiffed to the eyeballs with perfectly clippered hair, cut every few weeks to maintain it’s precision. They moisturise daily, spend a fortune on clothes, and take equally as much care over their appearance as girls. This is the crux – they are all totally obsessed with their appearance and nothing else.

The upshot is that they all look the same, like clones of each other. Personally, I can’t help wondering why you’d want to be like everybody else? I know most aren’t as shallow as they appear, but when they’re solely obsessed with how they look, this must dominate everything. Looking perfect 24/7 is a full-on, time-consuming business.

When I was a teenager, I was the only girl in a punk band. Until then, music had been my life for as long as I could remember. For me, the feeling of putting on my self-made clothes, styling my hair into a Mohican, and going out into the world, filled me with pride. I didn’t then, or now, want to be the same as everyone else. I’d far rather be an awkward oddball, than a homogenous version of what’s considered normal.

As a child I grew up with an aunt, a few years older than me. She is disabled and has cerebral palsy, making her life far less straightforward than mine. But I never saw her as different, and unconsciously adapted my behaviour to accommodate and help her. She has always had a fierce determination to not let her disability affect her detrimentally, and has led an independent adult life, through her stubbornness and refusal to give in.

When I asked my aunt how she felt about her disability she said “I am different, my body doesn’t move the same way as most people’s, but I am me, which is all I’ve ever known. And diversity isn’t bad, it gives humanity it’s vibrant colours, and it’s strength and tenacity, which has enabled it to survive.”

However our differences are manifested, whether from things we are born with or those which are self-imposed, nobody has the right to judge or treat you differently because of them. We are all unique humans and must live in a way which is true to ourselves, there is only one you and you only get one life.

I truly believe we should embrace and accept each other, be the best version of ourselves and celebrate our diversities, whatever shape or form they may take. And never leave anyone feeling excluded, just because they’re different.

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