The Joy in Difference

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” : Friedrich Nietzsche

I went back and forth–my friends can vouch–maybe three or four times within a single minute. Is this what I really want? Yes. But am I just trying to rebel against something, or is it really something that I have desired for longer than this moment? No, and yes.

We pulled up to the tattoo parlor. It took around thirty minutes, and I left with my ears pierced.

I don’t regret it. Maybe I will in ten years, or even five, but for now, I love it. It’s what I wanted, it’s what I have wanted, and I can say with confidence that it is. Now, at least.

I grew up in my own community thinking–and believing–that an act like this was an obvious indicator to the individual’s sexuality. (Though this is in no way true, I guess the joke’s on me now.) The right ear was “the gay one,” and this was common knowledge (Left is Right and Right is Wrong). To pierce either ear, really, was too effeminate to be taken seriously.

I’m not really sure why this is. Historically, it makes no sense. Men of the highest masculinity (not that I fall into that category…however) wore them all the time throughout all ages, and maybe it was the Gay Rights Movement of the late ’60s, early ’70s that solidified the differences between what should and shouldn’t be on any “respectable man’s” body. At least this was the way to the men I grew up around, the hard-working middle-class farmers and ranchers who oftentimes scoffed at dyed hair and band tees.

Granted, they were two completely different worlds, each one alien to the other. It’s just what I grew up judging, because that image wasn’t at all expected of me. Because it was the minority.

When I was asked to weigh the pros and the cons, guilt filled the latter’s space. There is no reason for me to truly feel guilty about it. It’s jewelry, like a necklace, a ring, a watch. They can be removed, unlike a tattoo (which I have, too), though I never thought twice about what anyone would think of me showing ink.

The greatest difficulty I had in piercing was fearing what others would think. 

That said, this was a great step in my own personal growth. I pierced my ears because it’s what I have wanted to do for years now. And, I am happy with the decision.

And my happiness in making a decision for myself should, in no way, affect how others view me.

This year, I have vowed (several times, I have vowed) that it is time to reclaim my individuality. Coming out was one [gigantic] thing, and an enormous first step toward discovering my own identity for myself. Piercing was a chance to claim that self, to separate from the relentless, judging crowd.

But of course, there is a lifetime of things–big and small–to be discovered. And I am a constant work in progress that will never be made complete–because where’s the fun in that?

We’ve heard it before, but it’s time that I become proactive in my thoughts: our given individuality is so unique and different and beautiful. So, so beautiful. And the world would not be half the mystery it is without difference.

Nothing I’ve said is new. Sometimes, it’s just nice to be reminded.

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2 thoughts on “The Joy in Difference

  1. You go Cade👏🏼 . Just remember if your next adventure leads you to the tattoo section think careful about what you might choose. I had my ears pierced when I was eight years old, it was a very easy decision at the time. Now I’m 56 years old and have been debating whether or not to get a tattoo. This debate has been going on in my mind since I was eighteen. Who knows what the future holds😜

  2. I LOVE your earrings and am so proud of your decision to go for it! The fact that you are embracing your individuality makes me so proud as a mother! Whether years ago or just now, I am proud that you have the desire to think for yourself. Embrace this time and do not worry about others and their judgments because in the end, it is about you and your hearts desire. I love you and am so proud of all your accomplishments! Cannot wait to see what your future holds!

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