I've had it with trying to be different. I give up. Completely. Well, not completely of course. I still won't accept that talk of poo is not polite conversation, I won't quietly sit by when people spout crap about what women should and shouldn't do, and I won't straighten my hair just because both Jack and Babes prefer it. But that constant striving "not to be like everyone else?" Gone. Because it's ridiculous, that's why.
A while back there was a new advert on one of the Discovery Channels. I think it said "Whatever you do, do it differently." This irritated me endlessly every time it was on. Doing things differently is fine. I love people who will go their own way with conviction. In fact, I firmly believe in the examined life. I hate simply accepting "the way things are done" without seeing if I agree first. I even changed the way I fold my towels a while back, I'm such a rebel. So - different: great. But - whatever you do? Is that not just taking it too far? Is that not too tiring, and unnecessary at that?
The other day, browsing Ikea for new toddler furniture, I was struck by how firmly ingrained my need for originality is. I felt a stupid self-loathing because our little girl's room was not going to be "unique." In fact, it was going to look very similar to about half of the other little girl's rooms in the country. And so bloody what? She's happy, we saved some time by shopping efficiently, and she got the pink splashes she was craving.
Now my darling sister An, may her silky hair be an example to us all, has the most exquisite talent for interior decorating. She can make a house look truly different and original in a seemingly effortless way. She will pick up a piece of junk from the recycling shop and by the time it's in her house, it looks like she went to Paris and had it designed especially for her house. But this is her very special talent. And it would make no more sense for me to try and aspire to this kind of brilliance than it would for me to decide to become an Olympic synchronised swimmer by tomorrow.
The same with clothes. I know some people who attach a lot of importance to being dressed differently from everyone else. They won't say where they got their clothes, considering "their" shop out of bounds to others. I, on the other hand, would be quite happy to learn from friends which jeans make my butt look good and which shop sells affordable things I like. I will in turn recommend my favourite haunts to friends and family. (I'm not saying I wasn't completely embarrassed when I turned up to a wedding once wearing the same dress as both the maid of honour and the bride's mother, only in a different colour - some difference is fine.)
I think the change has come with motherhood. All of a sudden I quite like the idea of having some traditions. I like making a meal just the way my grandmother did. I like that previous generations made all the mistakes so that I can now benefit from the solutions they came up with. I don't need my children to have a name no one can spell - I like that their names have been used for centuries. This makes me feel connected to the world and to other people.
Another problem with constant difference is that it's so bloody tiring. At the moment, I'm sorting the cards and candy for when our baby is born. There is a local tradition which dictates that when your baby is born, you immediately send out cards announcing the birth and then when people come to look at your baby, you give them a box of sugared almonds to take home. Some of these cards and candy boxes are turned into true works of art. A lot of parents take this task as an opportunity to express their innermost creativity. Which is fine and lovely, if you are so inclined, but I am not. I picked a colour and went with it. Plain boxes, plain cards. Complain if you like. I don't care and I can't be bothered.
Maybe it's like this - I AM different in some ways. I read language textbooks for fun, including the footnotes. I have very curly hair and a fairly dirty mouth at times. I am a housewife who tries to dodge most household tasks. If I had a million euros, I would probably go back to university and get my fifth degree. One of the first games I teach my children is "try to lick my face before I lick yours." I don't like coffee and I do like news programmes on TV. Oh, and I get unhealthily excited when I have something to file numerically or alphabetically.
So - I love difference. As long as it's not a goal for its own sake. Whatever you do, do it differently if you like, but otherwise just stick with what you know. Sigh. I'm a true revolutionary. I'm off to weep at my own conservatism now.