Ah, the notorious black sheep. The outsider, the odd one out, the third wheel; whatever you want to call it.
I feel that being the black sheep of ones’ family can often be perceived as a terrible thing; that you don’t have a good relationship with your family, that you don’t want one, and you’re just “too different to work”.
But, I’ve come to the revelation that being the black sheep doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Firstly, I do firmly believe that the majority of families have a black sheep. But, there is a sliding scale of black sheep. On the bottom, you have the cuckoo, estranged black sheep whom everyone can conclude is unhinged in some way. On the top, you have a black sheep whose only contrasting trait could be something as trivial as different likes and dislikes. And then there’s somewhere in the middle; where I, and many black sheep, lie.
I come from a very close family. Over the years we’ve shared everything with one another. We support each other, we try not to judge one another, and most importantly, we all love each other. Sadly though, over the years, I’ve realised that not all families are quite as fortunate as us Kellehers.
I have a loving mother and father, a younger brother and an older sister. That’s right; I’m the middle child *gasp*. And truthfully, although it has become somewhat of a satirical stereotype, I can tell you that there are problems associated with being the middle child.
I think that for me, having an older sister meant that I was unfortunately compared to her quite frequently in childhood in terms of progression, achievements, interests and personality. I dealt with this just fine as a child; it was never completely over the top, but it did exist in my upbringing. On the other side of this, my younger brother, being the “only boy”, was often seen as a unique entity from my perspective. As the three of us grew up, my brother and I shared similar talents and attributes; most notably, my brother and I loved to write stories and “novels” from a young age, but I sadly felt in my brother’s shadow.
My brother was much more confident and upfront about his writing abilities; whereas I, for some reason, felt shy and secretive about mine. My brother was proud of his writing and happily exclaimed to others his desire to become a novelist when he grew up. I strongly admire my brother’s childhood confidence, and am not trying to undermine him and his strong abilities as a child. However, to sum up, I felt throughout my upbringing as the middle child that I was simultaneously in my older sister’s shadow and my younger brothers’.
As children, my siblings and I weren’t noticeably different to one another. The three of us were actually incredibly similar. However, as we grew into our teenage years, and our personalities began to progress, it became evident from my perspective that I was quite different to my siblings in a lot of ways.
This is by no means any shade on my siblings. I truthfully adore the two of them with my whole heart. My brother and my sister began to develop the same ideologies, ways of thinking, interest in arts and personality traits as the three of us grew up. At this point, I did not even consider the possibility of being a “black sheep”.
However, as the three of us further developed into young adulthood, it became apparent to me that my siblings not only shared extremely similar viewpoints on things, but they also responded very similarly to distress, and in times of discomfort, my brother and sister tended to come to the same or a similar conclusion.
My brother and sister, now as grown adults in their twenties, are remarkably similar individuals. Not only do they look alike; they think alike. I find a new similarity between the two of them almost on a daily basis. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I believe that these similarities are entirely transparent. I do not see them as pretentious. I genuinely do believe that my siblings are just, by nature and/or nurture, extremely alike.
I’ve realised in recent years that I am different. But more importantly, I’ve realised that this is a good thing. I am quite happy to be my authentic self whenever I can; and if that’s “different”, I am happy to embrace it.
So yes, I am a black sheep of sorts. If my siblings and I express our opinions about a situation, my brother and sister will almost always express the same or similar beliefs. I, however, tend to think in a different way.
I am not only a black sheep in my family; but I’ve come to the conclusion that I may in fact be a black sheep of society. I find more and more over the years that I’m on a different wavelength to my colleagues and peers in many regards. And truthfully, I think that is largely due to the fact that I am naturally such a daydreamer.
But, I will no longer feel bad about being different. And, I have decided instead to embrace it.
Being the “black sheep” can, and does, of course lead to various trials and tribulations at times. But, what’s the alternative? Try to fit in? Become agreeable just for the sake of it? For me, I have no interest in that anymore.
To fellow black sheep, you’re perfect the way you are. You don’t have to be the same as your family. That’s the beauty of humankind; we are all different. And in some regards, we are all black sheep.