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Bah-Bah, I am the Black Sheep

Have you ever felt like you were a disappointment to everyone around you? Everything you do is wrong? Everything you say, is wrong? Everything you believe is wrong?

I want to preface this by saying a few things. I will be talking about many different things that have been on my mind, this is kind of a mish mash of my thoughts and feelings. Also, that in no way am I insulting, talking badly or blaming my family for anything I talk about. That being said, I call myself the black sheep in my family. I have always been the dramatic one, the one with different opinions and beliefs. Not just in my family but also with friends, co-workers and strangers.

Some of the biggest questions I have in life are, “ Why can’t we all just believe what we want, even if it’s not the same? Why can’t we have different opinions without fighting? Why is everyone so quick to tell you that you are wrong for believing something different than they do?

This is something I’ve always wondered and stressed about, but I think Covid really intensified the difference of opinions and caused a lot of tension between friends, families and acquaintances. I personally lost quite a few people in my life simply because I had different beliefs/views on things Covid related.

It’s really sad that our communities, families and even countries turned on us. Covid was a lot to handle, as we all know. I don’t have much to say about it other than Covid SUCKS.

Back to one of the original points of this blog. I have been made to feel like I am wrong or stupid for thinking differently than a vast majority.

I am quite different from my family. My family is known to be very calm, considerate, loving and reasonable. They tend to “do the right thing”. My family members always strive to be “the nice/good people”. That being said, there are times that I can see certain members being walked all over because there are a lot of shitty people in this world who take advantage of their kindness. As much as I try to be as calm and easy going as they are, I am known to be the spicy one, blunt and I have the tendency to have little patience.

My mom always taught me to “be the bigger person” or “kill them with kindness”. So that's how I lived my life probably up to age 22/23. I found myself biting my tongue about things that I disagreed with and times when people were rude and condescending towards me or someone I cared about. I would remind myself, “be the bigger person”.

It always baffled me how my mom has lived literally her entire life this way and hasn’t had a mental breakdown. My dad is the same way, he avoids confrontation and just shrugs it off. I, on the other hand, do not have the mental and emotional capacity to do that. I’m not sure if the older I get, the more I am realizing how awful some people can be, or if people are just getting worse as the world continues to crash and burn or if I am just short tempered.

This story is kind of a random memory, but I want to explain to you the type of BS that I cannot and will not stand for.

When I worked at Sobeys in Toronto back in 2013/2014, there was a buggy boy. Let’s name him Bob. It was obvious that Bob had a mental disability… don’t come at me for using a politically incorrect term, I can’t keep up. A lot of my co-workers used to laugh at him, joke about him with other co-workers, and never take anything he said seriously. People treated him with zero respect. I, personally, loved talking to him because he always had interesting stories about what he did the night before. Bob was always in great spirits, he loved to laugh and tell you all about the newest music or movie he came across.

One day, Bob came into work near the end of my shift. He didn’t have his normal happy-go-lucky attitude, with the biggest frown on his face. I asked Bob if he was okay, and he looked at me and said, I feel sad. I asked him why, and he said how he hated himself and his life. He then proceeded to tell me, “ I want to kill myself… I am going to kill myself”. My heart dropped into my stomach instantly. I asked him to talk to me about it but he didn’t want to talk. He continued to tell people the same thing whenever people would notice he was upset.

I noticed that some of the younger co-workers were laughing and joking about what he said about killing himself. I was immediately enraged and knew I had to do something about it. My first thought was to tell a manager. I found the nearest manager and told them what Bob had told me. I will never forget what the manager said to me. He said, “It’s Bob, he’s just being dramatic”. When those words left his mouth, I instantly went into hulk mode.

At this point in my life, I had never talked back to a manager. That changed very quickly after his response.

I snapped back at him with, “Oh really? So, tell me, if we all come into work tomorrow to find out that Bob has committed suicide because we didn’t take any action, how will you feel? I know that I wouldn’t be able to live with myself”. He looked at me like a deer in headlights. Other managers joined the conversation and continued to try to convince me that “oh, it’s just Bob, don’t worry”. One manager even got mad at me and said, “ Okay if you’re so concerned about him, what are you going to do about it?”. I looked at him and said, “This is me doing something about it. However, I am not a manager. I don’t have access to his personal information to contact his family… YOU DO, so do it”.

I was so disgusted and angry. People were looking at me like I had 5 heads. I had known Bob for over a year at that point and had never seen him like that. Co-workers continued to laugh, managers refused to take action. I told them to call his parents to let them know what he was saying at work and to talk him through it. I ended up leaving work utterly disgusted, scared for Bob’s life and bawling my eyes out.

I couldn’t comprehend how so many people, including adults, could just ignore such an important red flag. Thankfully, he was sent home early and his parents were able to talk it through with him. A couple of co-workers thanked me for sticking up for Bob. Bob did as well.

The co-workers that laughed at him looked at me like I was nuts. They thought I was wrong for making a big deal about his comment to me. I will never forget how those people made me feel, and I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be in Bob’s position. Shame on them.

When it comes to speaking my mind, this is something that I grew into.

One side of the family, which I personally do not communicate with any more, was notorious for condescending remarks, their way or the highway attitude and manipulation. Whenever we would have family dinners, the conversation was always about what they wanted to talk about, they’d get into heated debates about everything and anything. The father and daughter would either be at each other's throats, or gang up on whoever had a different opinion than them.

During conversations and debates, I would always remove myself because I would never be able to get a word in edgewise even if I tried. There were always things that I wanted to say but I knew I’d be attacked if I tried. I just figured it wasn’t worth it, and that I didn’t have the pro debating skills like they did.

Over the years, I bit my tongue about a lot of things when it came to these relatives. I held a lot of resentment towards them for many reasons that I won’t get into.

Since I was the only granddaughter that was in the same region as my grandparents, I felt that I had to make up for the grandchildren that paid no attention to them. When my Nonno passed, some “family drama” arose. I could tell my mom was upset and disappointed in said family. It was at that point that I chose to stick up for my mom, Nonna and Nonno. I was going to face the monsters that were always ready to attack with their words. When I voiced my opinions, I was made to feel like I was wrong, I had no right to say anything to them, I should have “ known my place”.

It was at this moment that I thought, screw it. Some people will always be on the defensive, ready to attack, but that doesn’t mean that you should bow down to them just because you’re scared of their words. When you genuinely believe in something, or even if you have hard facts to back you up, stand up for yourself. No one should ever feel belittled for speaking their minds as well as standing up for yourself and/or others.

Of course, when I stood up to these family members, it came as a huge shock to them since I was always the quiet one that had nothing to say. Little did they know, when I am passionate about something or when you disrespect me, or someone I love, I turn into a savage. I don’t care who you are, how old you are, what my relationship is with you or what position you hold in life… if you are disrespectful, rude and/or condescending, I will put you in your place.

This quality I hold, is where I differ from my (immediate) family. Growing up, I didn’t really realize why I was always “rebelling” by being confrontational. I always felt as though I made the wrong decision by speaking my mind. Granted, there were some times that I look back on that weren’t the smartest, but as I got older, I now pick and choose when I feel it is appropriate and necessary to speak up.

Have you ever noticed that people absolutely hate it when you stand up for yourself? It’s actually quite hilarious the look on people’s faces when you call them out on their disrespect towards you. It’s comical that people think they can get away with being rude, disrespectful or condescending without consequences.

Truly good people who want the best for you and respect you will never make you feel bad for defending yourself. If someone loves you and respects you, they will apologize for overstepping, crossing any boundaries you have or doing whatever it is that triggered your need to stand up for yourself. Unfortunately, the amount of times the average person will experience this is few and far between.

As I get older, I notice that so many people feel this sense of entitlement. There is also this unspoken competition between family members, friends, neighbors and coworkers. When we were kids, it was totally normal to be jealous of other kids' toys, clothes, social status, etc. But you’d think eventually we’d grow out of it, no? In fact, it seems like as we age, it just gets worse. Of course, I am speaking from my own experiences. I remember feeling jealous of other girls for having boyfriends in high school, their clothes, their social life, etc. I was so self conscious of what people thought of me, how I looked / how I carried myself. Now, I honestly couldn’t care less.

You don’t like the shirt I am wearing? Okay.

You think my hair looks bad ? Awesome.

You don’t like my opinion? You don’t have to.

One last thing that really grinds my gears is the emotional and mental damage that comes with being made to feel badly about speaking up. I can't tell you how many times I would sit and ask myself if I was crazy for thinking this way? Am I overreacting ? What did I do wrong? To me, this is a huge contributor to my anxiety. There were so many scenarios where this would happen, so any time I would have a different opinion, I became scared to voice it due to the fear of being looked at as crazy or stupid. It's not fair.

I think the world needs to be more open to other opinions. As soon as you shut someone down by saying, "you're wrong", you close the opportunity to learn something new. My papa always said that he loved to debate with people for the sole purpose of learning something new. He said, "If I always agree with you, then how will I learn anything new?".

Saying that, it might seem like I am contradicting myself a little bit. Hopefully I can clarify what I am trying to say.

Debating is okay. In fact, it's encouraged. However, with debating comes having an open mind. Arguing with someone who has their mind dead set on the fact that they are right, you won't get anywhere. It's like trying to argue with Matilda's dad... “I'm right and you're wrong, I'm big and you're small, and there's nothing you can do about it". People like that, can kindly F off :)

At the end of the day, I am in charge of my thoughts, feelings and emotions, as are you. Most importantly, I am in charge of whether I want to share them with the world or not. It is no one else's decision to tell me if I can or cannot speak my mind. I should not be looked down on, told I am making the wrong decision by thinking differently, or made to feel stupid for thinking differently.

Moral of the story, don’t be scared to think differently than others. Don’t be scared to speak up and defend yourself. Sure, you may be looked at as the black sheep, but at least you will be able to sleep easy at night knowing that you stood up for what you believe in. If anyone has a problem with it, that’s their problem.

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