When I was a child, I colored outside the lines.
Much like other kids.
But it was how I did it that was unique.
I did it left-handed.
It wasn't something I chose to be.
It was just natural.
But I was aware it made me different.
Or at least I was made aware it made me different.
One of my earliest memories is someone reacting to my left-handedness in a way that made me conscious of their discomfort and my otherness.
It was a defining moment.
Because I became aware of something intrinsic about me, how people perceived that, and how that made me feel about myself.
Although I would eventually conform to coloring in the lines, based on pressure from teachers, I remained left-handed.
It was who I was, even if I was self-conscious about it.
I have been thinking about that a lot lately.
In part because I am non-binary.
I always was, but I never had a way to articulate that until recently.
From an early age, I didn't identify with being male.
I also didn't engage in many things that were considered appropriate for boys.
I didn't like sports.
Or hunting and fishing.
Or shop (one particularly violent and angry teacher killed any interest I might have developed in that, but I digress).
I liked creativity.
I liked to read and write.
Listen to music.
Not necessarily male or female things, but I just generally didn't identify with, feel like. or want to grow up male.
And yet, I tried to fit into that category to some extent over the years.
Because I didn't want to be perceived as different.
After all, when you are looked at as different, it is not typically in a good way.
And that is how I was looked at.
Not necessarily because I was left-handed, but because I wasn't into sports, I did well in school, I was sensitive, and so on.
But I wanted to be normal, whatever that meant.
But I failed.
More accurately, I failed myself.
I decided it was more important to fit some notion of what was normal than to be myself or feed my happiness.
Over the past two years, I’ve realized that basing your identity on the perceptions of others is not ‘normal.’
That is going against your nature.
I didn’t go against my nature and start writing with my right hand when someone had a negative reaction to my left-handedness.
So why should I deny I am non-binary?
I think this is why, when I hear people talk about getting back to normal from these strange times, I ask myself ‘Whose normal?’
‘Normal’ got us into the mess we are in.
This is a time to be different, think different, do different.
Because that leads to new possibilities, creativity, and ways forward.
And we need that now.
For me, being different starts with being true to myself in ways I haven’t before because I worried about how I would be perceived.
It also means realizing that being different isn't something to be ashamed of.
Being different made me who I am.
A content writer who loves to tell stories that resonate.
A copywriter who can elicit a smile with a double-entendre in an ad.
My differences have opened doors I could not have imagined.
So it is time I made peace with them, particularly being non-binary.
Given all the uncertainty in the world, it feels good to have one certainty: who I am.
After years of living within rigid confines, I am ready to start coloring outside the lines again.
I hope you feel emboldened to be or do what you want.
Whether that is right or left handed.