I am unique.
And not in the “I’m a Millennial, look at me!” way.
Instead, I am statistically unique:
2 Percent: I have the rarest hair color in the world: red.
1 Percent: Even rarer, I have the rarest hair/eye combination in the world: red/blue.
1 Percent: I have the rarest personality type in the world: INFJ.
20 Percent: I identify as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). (Note: This is not a mental illness! It’s a species survival mechanism that 20% of all humans and animals have!)
I am unique.
I have above average intelligence, but I’m not a genius. I don’t have Grammy-worthy musical talent. I’m not left-handed.
But I’m unique.
And while so many strive for to stand apart, I always wished to conform. Life would be so much easier that way.
Because being unique is really fucking lonely. And really fucking hard. Sometimes.
It’s hard to be the only redhead (and one of few with a Jew-fro) growing up in a WASP-y area. In my preteens and teens, bullies and former-friends-turned-mean-girls teased me, called me names and ostracized me. Because my hair was red and curly. And unmanageable. There were days in middle school where much like Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls, I sat on the toilet in the bathroom during lunchtime. Because I had no longer had anyone to sit with. My former friends were wearing mascara and smoking and flirting with boys. I was still sleeping under Pocahontas sheets that my mom had bought, much to my chagrin. I was sexually harassed starting at age 10 by some boys on the bus and from the yacht club my family was a part of (I know). Miraculously, no one EVER maliciously commented on how pale I was. I thought I was supposed to be insecure about not being tan, but the lack of bullying helped me realize I didn’t need to be. I still haven’t fully recovered from all the blows to my self-esteem that happened over 15 years ago. I still want, so badly, to be “the cool kid”. Even though nobody else gives a fuck about that anymore. (Except for a an alcoholic I dated, who told me he didn’t want to hear that I wasn’t “cool” in high school. He was, apparently. What a fucktard. Oh and that one mean girl I used to work with, who still made fun of the nerd she made fun of in her private Catholic high school. He’s a billionaire now, of course.)
It’s hard to be an INFJ and an HSP and a redhead. It means I feel things more strongly than most people do. Physical and emotional pain, life’s highs and lows. It means I’m a perfectionist, in all aspects of life. It means I have high expectations. I’m always wanting more. More fulfillment, more connection, more this or that. It means I’m really hard on myself. And sometimes other people too. All in all, it means I’m more sensitive — and yes, the red hair is a factor in that too.
It means I’m misunderstood. More often than not. You can be surrounded by everyone, and feel understood by no one.
Robin Williams, who I believe to be a kindred spirit with an enormous heart, once said, “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.” And it’s hard to not feel alone when you’re the albino, the lone wolf, Jonas in The Giver. Some days, I feel like I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. But other days, I feel like it’s just because I’m more aware of my core; I’m no longer the one pushing it all down to seek money and 2.5 kids and external success. I’ve already learned to go my own way. And that’s a luxury some may never get to afford.
Life is really fucking hard for everyone. But when you’re unique — physically, mentally and emotionally — you have twice the battle to fight.
So blondes and brunettes, basic bitches and plain Janes : you are the truly lucky ones. Thank your lucky stars. I envy you.