T. R. Williams

Embracing distinction

A comrade mispronounced my name during a cordial exchange. Promptly rectifying, I suddenly grasped the irony in such, as I hadn’t always been so fond of my distinctive birth name.

Rewind to my first day of kindergarten. Teachers gazing cheerily about, alphabetically summoning Crystalei, Dottie, and Hanzi. Their unique names promptly garnishing disapproving snickers, I shriveled knowing I, too, was in for a chastening.

Being unique seemingly ranked us more in the mutant category than the distinctive-to-my-peers category, and to this day is still a battle well-fought.

Each time I see misfortune arise against those who march to a different drum - I find my patience disintegrate. Be it colorful locks, pierced and inked flesh, or even simply differing foods chosen - why not embrace individualism?

What kind of experience would life be if we each were merely vanilla? Isn’t there something to be said for rich colorful spices, for sumptuous essences that kindle more a worthy existence?

Bullying over individualism knows no bounds. Think of a youthful Sandra Bullock being taunted and sadly beaten up over her personal fashion statement. I doubt there’s anybody claiming her a clown now. Chris Rock faced enough scrutiny that he based a TV program on his experiences, and then hosted the 2016 Oscars.

Imagining Tiger Woods being strung tight to a tree the first day of school back in 1981, verbally battered for his stuttering, the sting of racial slurs slicing as deep as the lashings his ancestors might have received, turns my stomach.

Before winning 18 Gold medals, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps was badgered for the dimensions of his ears and speaking with a lisp.

Platinum recording artist Rihanna was ludicrously bullied for her cocoa skin and green eyes while living as a child in Barbados.

Justin Timberlake was long harassed for his “weird hair,” acne ravaged skin, and his insatiable desire to make music over playing football. The true reckoning being that his abhorred obsession led him to become nothing more than one of, if not the, most famous boy band lead singers in music history.

The incomparably gorgeous Kate Winslet was horrendously baptized “blubber” as a youth, world renowned abstract music entertainer Lady Gaga faced multiple humiliating trashcan assaults, horrific bouts of profanity bombardment, and public humiliation only to recently establish her own anti-bullying campaign as the current Cher-sized superstar.

Sadly, it seems even royalty aren’t immune to such ignorance, as the duchess and now heir to the British throne suffered much adversity, failing miserably to fit in while attending boarding school.

Why is it that we fear distinctiveness amongst our peers? There’s beauty in celebrating dissimilarities, openly acknowledging the splendor in our uniqueness, abundantly appreciating that which makes us each the irreplaceable creations we’re born to be.

Who composed these hideous guidelines that we’ve long come to believe, so obediently falling into line of ordinariness, marching to the same drummer, relinquishing all that makes us exquisitely diverse?

My comprehension for this concept when I’d barely resided five years upon this spinning orb sets precedence to the wretched state of the situation.

When will we simply learn to live and let live, to appreciate distinctiveness, and celebrate each precious soul?