I have always wanted to be individual but I have never really enjoyed those moments when I have felt terminally unique. What do you think?
When I was a psychology student I ticked off all the symptoms of the diseases I was studying and often freaked out because I decided I was after all one of those people. It's called 'Second Year Syndrome' or 'Intern's Syndrome' and is a condition frequently reported in students studying diseases: they perceive themselves to be experiencing the symptoms of a disease that they are studying. Hence my swift departure from the psychology faculty to the school of performing arts where singing show-tunes and doing dance class was much less stressful.
The desire to be extraordinary is constantly in conflict with the desire to be part of the crowd -- part of that dreadful idea: the norm.
Suddenly realizing you might be unique, though, can be rather disconcerting.
I have always loved eccentric people and I love the fact that eccentricity is, to a certain extent, often revered in our culture.
Of course we all know that 'normal' doesn't actually exist but our culture tries oh-so-very-hard to establish it and to force us into categories.
For example, I have always loved quirkiness and eccentricity in others but when I was a very young teen and realized I fancied blokes (this was when I was ensconced in a medieval boarding school in Ireland) my head nearly exploded.
I was fine with being slightly different until I hit crisis points and then i would - metaphorically speaking - grab for the bannister and hope for stability and normalcy -- you know: I'd want to be normal. But it doesn't exist. Anywhere.
That was a shock. Being in a medieval boarding school, I mean. And discovering I wasn't hetero at thirteen. Boy oh boy! Danger, danger, Will Robinson!
That was taking my quirkiness too far (or so I thought as a child of thirteen) - this was way back in the day when it was dangerous to be perceived as gay or bisexual and I was in a boarding school founded in the year 1603 - and it had resolutely stayed there (in 1603). I really was in danger!
One minute I was in love with, maybe, Trudy from the girls' high school next door and then I realized I was more in love with her boyfriend, Tony, who happened to be my brother's best friend and given that we were all friends and that I actually slept in the bed next to her boyfriend's younger brother in our dormitory (and he was my best friend) the whole nonsense made me feel like a traitor to everyone and to myself and I was sure non-existent deity who was about to strike me down with a non-existent thunderbolt. For a young teen it was dizzyingly disconcerting!
Falling in love is pretty cool even if you have to keep it to yourself even if you feel like a heretic for doing something that isn't your fault. It's cupid! You know: the non-existent deity's non-existent angels that were playin' with my heart. All their fault. So there.
I couldn't tell anyone about fancying Susie cos of her face while at the same time fancying Tony for his face and body and in any event it was all too confusing so I became an ostrich, sunk my head deeply in the sand and went into blissful denial until it was 'safe' to come out in London after fleeing my medieval village.
But in the meantime: Ugh! Such confusion and horror! trapped in a Gothic tower like Rapunzel without a prince. I would have thrown down my fifty foot ponytail for a handsome prince to crawl up it but I wasn't allowed to have one -- (a ponytail or a handsome prince).
The whole shebang dropped a bomb on any sense of identity I, as a teen child, may have been able to muster up for myself and I think it turned me into a very introspective person for the rest of my life, forever pondering: who the hell am I?
Did I say introspective?
Well, yes, but my school-friends would have described me as gregarious and extrovert. There ya go: another paradox. There was no hope of successfully labelling myself and therefore being able to feel normal.
But we all now know normal doesn't exist.
Why on earth did I fall in love platonically with, say, Trudy or Karen or June from the girls' high school (yeah we fell in love a lot in my year at school) without physically fancying her at all aside from being smitten by her extremely pretty face and charming demeanor?
How was it that I was at the same time exquisitely crushing both romantically and physically on a rugby football captain a few years ahead of me in school?
And then there was Tracy and Suzette and Yvette and Pippa and ... Johnny and Gerrard. Throughout my school years my feverish adolescent brain would flutter from one to another like some rampant bee lurching from flower to flower for some intoxicating pollen - but only in my mind.
Trying to establish any sense of identity out of all this was fruitless especially in the 1970s when I was sexually and romantically gagged until I graduated school and could get onto a plane to London.
There I planned to ride the wave of clubland in a metropolis where androgyny and the likes of David Bowie, Mark Bolan, Mick Jagger and Gary Numan, Annie Lennox, even, had made androgyny and bisexuality de rigeur. Alienation, I hoped, would morph into acceptance.
I fancied guys and was attracted romantically but only platonically to girls. What on earth was I? What was my label? I think I wanted one.
I remember slow dancing with Susie at a school disco to the song Torn Between Two Lovers by Mary MacGregor and hoping John-the-Rugby-Captain was watching (cos everyone fancied Susie). How weird is that?
Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool
Loving both of you is breaking all the rules ...
Of course none of us knew what the other was thinking so there was no malice aforethought and Susie was about to dump me for John-the-Rugby player anyway so that would be that.
It was a freaking minefield for a fifteen-to-eighteen year old to mentally and emotionally negotiate!
Well. I just found out who and what I am!
I am bi-romantic! There is a label. The twenty-first century has found a 'definition' -- or at least come up with a word for it.
Hmm. Not sure I like labels but the fringe benefit of a label is that you are not alone! The label also gives me a definition. Do I like being defined by my orientation? No, but I like having an identity.
Convoluted isn't it? Being a quirky individual can make you feel alienated and lonesome at times and at other times you champion it.
It's also cool to know that the quirkiest bit of you isn't 100 percent unique because that's what the vultures will swoop down on given that, sadly, human beings have a tendency to mistrust and lash out at the unfamiliar.
Given that there are hetero, gay, bisexual, pan-sexual, bi-romantic, asexual, transgender, transsexual etc etc etc people it seems that the outdated notion of the heteronormative society has always been a load of cobblers. ...