It’s an expression I heard often in the initial stages of eating disorder recovery—and in most cases, directed at me. Because I’m that person. The girl who passionately, stubbornly, dogmatically assumes that she’s different from all other humans in the grand continuum of space and time.
I know…I know. Arrogant much?
But I digress—that staunch conviction is rooted in a lifetime of protecting an identity and individuality I don’t even understand. Proclaiming to the masses that I’m a nonconformist who tosses back her windswept hair and throws adversity a conspiratorial wink. The unapolgetic embodiment of my deepest, wildest urges…
I’ve dedicated energy, time, resources, my sheer existence to forcing this persona into the limelight. Proving. Performing. Projecting. Consumed with others accepting me for that renegade I yearned to become. But here’s the kicker—people don’t subscribe to a counterfeit. They squint through the bravado to glimpse the insecurities underneath.
And here’s what they found…
not Fierceness, but Abrasiveness.
not Empowerment, but Restraint.
not Counterculturalism, but Defeatism.
not Strength, but Fragility.
not Moxie, but Self-Doubt.
In this ironic turn of events, my own benchmarks and expectations of how a “free-spirit” should behave were undermining that freedom I relentlessly pursued. This “nonconformist” who opposed mediocrity and passivity was teetering on the edge of both. This “renegade” had gone static and compliant because just being wasn’t enough. I needed more.
I needed the world to affirm my uniqueness. The alternative—sameness—was unacceptable. But that demand rings hollow if I continue striving toward a cheap imitation of the individual creation I was meant to authenticate. Because that girl doesn’t need to enforce or defend her own eccentricities. She’s not unique based on some impassioned declaration cross-examined amongst a jury of her peers. She’s just terminally herself.
That. Is. All.
And her assignment is to live.
Despite whose recognition (or lack thereof) she gains in the process.