Today, I’ve been thinking about what being the ‘same but different’ actually means and how it affects anyone who feels ‘different’ from other people. It’s often hard to come to terms with any difference in ourselves and in others; the difference might be physical, ranging from a birthmark or a scar to a missing limb or anything else that makes someone feel different from their fellow human being. If other people remark on the difference in a negative way, it can have a massive impact on self-esteem; people can react to this in several ways, perhaps by withdrawing from social activities or finding it difficult to go out of their homes or, sometimes by becoming the ‘clown’ who always makes other people laugh rather than being laughed at.
On the other hand, the difference might be the way we perceive things, look at life or articulate our views. If we feel different from other people, it can make us feel isolated and afraid.
When I looked up ‘same but different’ there were a lot of different explanations – for instance ‘sea’ and ‘ocean’ are almost the same, but different (sea is a ‘smaller body of water partially enclosed by land’, whereas an’ ocean has no boundaries’) and ‘sauce’ (‘served hot’) and ketchup (‘served cold and never heated’); however, these are physical examples and don’t take into account the many ways in which humans feel different from one another.
If you’ve always felt different, perhaps because you felt that you had to hide things from your background (an alcoholic parent, lack of money making you feel inferior to your friends, being bigger/smaller than others in your class at school), that feeling can follow you into the adult world. Any differences can seem even more apparent when you start work or university and can torment you in your daily life.
Any concerns or worries about gender or sexual preferences can set you aside from others and really prey on your mind. If this is you, try to take stock of the situation and work out what’s really worrying you. Is it other peoples’ reactions to what’s happening to you? Or is it because you yourself are not happy about your body or the way you feel about other people? It may be that by accepting you for who you are (it’s fine to be you!), increasing your self-esteem and feeling more confident in yourself, you’ll start believing in you and who you are.
In future blogs, I hope to expand on some of the above issues – childhood experiences can affect us in our later lives; gender issues are hard to deal with even though we appear to be a more tolerant society now (this wasn’t the case with some of my clients who were dealing with gender issues – they still felt judged by others).
Trying counselling, with a therapist who specialises in what you’re trying to deal with can really help. If you don’t ‘gel’ with the first counsellor you try, look for another one and make sure you’re getting what you want out of the sessions. It’s not a cheap option but it’s one that might really set you on the journey of accepting you for who you are, and being happy about it. Here’s to a happier future……..