I’ve always felt like the black sheep in my family, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. Or should I say “baaaa-d” way. Okay, I get it. My puns are terrible. Moving on.
Since I was five and started obsessively drawing unicorns after watching The Last Unicorn dozens of times, I have always identified myself as the creative thinker in the family. That doesn’t mean that I am the only creative individual within my family. My mom has always been really skilled at drawing, woodworking, and a variety of other projects that require her to be innovative. My twin sister crotchets (and I say this as I wrap myself up in a blanket she crotched and then gave me as a gift), my brother indulges in all sorts of woodworking projects, and my older sister can be very crafty in the sewing department, especially when she wants to be resourceful and not pay for items that she can just make herself. I was born into a family of creative thinkers. The real difference is the reason behind our creations: many of my family members create because it is practical, while my need to create derives from pure emotion. It doesn’t matter what I am creating. I am always happy when I am given the ability to fill my world with drawing, painting, writing, and a myriad of other artistic endeavors. Each time I put my pencil to paper, my heart swells and purges itself of all the agonizing emotions that I kept bottled up inside all day. Making things has always been my number one form of therapy, and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than actual “pay $300 dollars for one session” therapy. And I sometimes make a little bit of money with my art, which is a plus, and something you won’t get with mainstream therapy.
To be clear, I am not the only individual in my family that has the ability to make things and to make things well. My heart and mind have just always gravitated toward other dreams, other passions, and other lifestyles compared to the paths my siblings chose. Unlike most of them, I would actually like to do something with my artistic talents beyond hanging my paintings on the wall of my bland and white walled apartment and beyond constantly rereading my novel that remains suppressed behind a screen (and that I sometimes fear will always remain so). I listen to uncharted music and I have a difficult time relating to the musical interests of my family members for this reason. I like tattoos and I have tattoos in a circle of individuals that have no desire to ink any of their own skin. My opinions and convictions can be more artistically charged and irrational seeming compared to their own beliefs and way of thinking. And sometimes, I just like to see where the wind takes me. I don’t have a whole lot figured out in my life like the rest of them. I don’t have any future plans to get married, to have kids, and to settle down (or, hell, to even be in a relationship any time soon). My life is a maze that I intend to work through on my own, at my own pace, and with my own passions and dreams as my guide in this beautiful, messy whirlwind I call my constant and unresolved existence.
I will never be as practical in my thinking (though that isn’t to say that I’m not practical when it comes to a variety of things) as most of them are. Many of my decisions in life will come from an unexplained and creative place that many of them (and many others) will often grapple to understand. I don’t just make decisions based on reason and logic. I weigh decisions based on what will bring me the most happiness, and having the emotional, mental, and physical ability and space to create things is something I will always consider as a priority in my life decisions. I am not myself, and won’t be myself if I cannot make things.
And there you have it. I identify myself as the black sheep of my family because I often feel I am misunderstood, and because I don’t always share the same viewpoints or way of life as the majority of them. My dreams, passions, and priorities often don’t add up when it comes to their own checklists to living a happy, healthy, and successful life. And you know what? That’s okay. It is perfectly fine to feel different and to be different. Perhaps, I am not the only one who has felt like the black sheep because maybe I’m not the only one who has felt different from the rest. Ultimately, I have established that there is no one set way to live and there isn’t one recipe to living a fulfilled life. If there were, then we’d all be pretty much living the same life and that would be so damn boring. It is important that everyone sets off on their own journey to discover their own sense of purpose in life and to not just follow behind in the footsteps of someone else’s journey. E. E. Cummings once said, “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”
And that’s just it. My firm need to create has allowed me to fight the wolves of this world who want to devour the black sheep first because of it’s eccentric qualities and inability to be molded and doused in white. My artistic principles and creative way of life has been rooted so deeply in me to the point where I will always fight and I will always resist those who want to carve me into something that I am not. The passion I have developed for the things I love and for the things that have helped me live, will always burn in me like a candle made of wax that does not melt, and like a forever sunset that hangs on the fringes of the world and fills the sky with a palette of vivid colors. There is no end to my passions, just as there is no end to the complexities that fill me and my bruised and tenderly touched soul. Black sheep are not afraid of wolves because they have already discovered how to stand up to them and, in doing so, they have determined the secret in sending them back into fairytales where they rightfully belong.
I may feel like the black sheep of my family, but it doesn’t mean that I actually am the black sheep or a black sheep at all. Because I really think that’s what the term boils down to: a feeling. It isn’t a label that families actually place on a specific individual in an obvious fashion (if it were, well, maybe there is a novel idea in there somewhere). But if I have learned anything in carrying this feeling with me to family gatherings and get-togethers, it is the importance of family and the support they provide you with no matter what your passions in life are. Your family should want you to be happy, just like your friends. And even if you don’t listen to the same kind of music or watch the same type of TV shows, it doesn’t really matter. In the end, sharing the same familial value of supporting the goals, dreams, and efforts of each family member is what makes a difference.
The truth is, we can all be a little too invested in ourselves and the way our own lives are going. But families are a wonderful method of opening yourself up to all different kinds of lifestyles whether they are shared or distinct. You should be able to share your own life with others without judgement and criticism and vice versa. This will not only make the black sheep of the world feel less like black sheep, but it will also help them keep on fighting the figurative wolves of the world that want to tear to shreds any exquisitely genuine identity that tries to help rather than hurt the world we all live in.