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The Experience of Being Different

“I guess I’m just different.”

I hear that a lot in sessions with my clients. And I’ve certainly said it myself!

But what do we mean when we say we are “different?”

I’ve been thinking about that concept a lot lately. The path I have traveled has certainly been anything but usual. In terms of my personal life, I have always had a different taste in popular culture. In the 90s, instead of listening to the current top 40 pop music, I gravitated toward listening to the Beach Boys and the Beatles. My clothing preferences have never matched the current trends. And I was never “in” with the popular kids in school.

My career path has been anything BUT traditional. I’ve never had a full-time job, although I have always worked full time. I never made job security the top priority in my work but have never been in a position of insecurity (minus that little pandemic that affected even the most “secure” among us). And my schedule has also never been steady or predictable.

When I glance at the paths traveled by my friends and family, I can see some stark differences. Most have or have had the job that comes with benefits and retirement. That was certainly the job set-up to which the people around me in all walks of life seemed to aspire. But then it’s these same people who talk about their workdays as being something they just need to “get through.”

Perhaps being “different” is when that thing inside says “I don’t want to WAIT to live my life until after retirement. I want to LIVE now.”

Maybe being different is wanting what we do to match WHO we are.

Maybe being different is wanting freedom in what we do for a living.

Often, people at the crossroads of a life transition are facing a shift from walking the path they thought they “should” want to creating a path that finally feels right. Making this shift can be tough- we must face parts of ourselves that may have been shut down or ignored for a long time.

But when my clients have reached a point of simply being unable to continue following the familiar, “normal” path, that’s when it becomes necessary to embrace the perceived path of “being different.”

I unpack the idea of being different further in this episode of Growing in Uncertainty. I share what “different” has meant to me and how I’ve handled the times when being different was met with resistance (internally and externally) and when it has made all the difference in the world.

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