Being A Black Sheep As A Woman Is Not As Easy As It Looks

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“Do not cringe and make yourself small if you are called the black sheep, the maverick, the lone wolf. Those with slow seeing say that a noncomformist is a blight on society. But it has been proven over the centuries, that being different means standing at the edge, that one is practically guaranteed to make an original contribution, a useful and stunning contribution to her culture.” – -Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

As I and my friends grow older I realize that is very easy to slip into being the moral guardians that our mamas, aunties & grandmas were – whose stinging words about dressing & behaviour we hated so much when we were young. We grow older, we think we are wiser but slowly the moral ethics of older women seep into us somehow.

When we were younger we chaffed against always being policed in terms of how we dressed, walked, talked and did everything. As we become older we realize why some of that policing was there and the wisdom of some of it (not all of it or how some of the lessons were taught). It is very easy to become our mums who also once saw things differently but then became their mothers as well. Society has a way of making women conform – maybe because we value a sense of belonging.

May I never be one of them. Sometimes I am considered a rebel but sometimes also I also want to belong. But I have to ask myself, do I want to belong in spaces where I have to shrink myself and turn against people like me, free thinkers who do not want to let society go on the way it has for thousands of years, oppressing women.

“In families children tend to take on stock roles, as if there were hats hung up in some secret place, visible only to the children. Each succeeding child selects a hat and takes on that role: the good child, the black sheep, the clown, and so forth.” -Ellen Galinsky.

It is something I think about a lot, the fight between nurture and nature. Many women growing up in the 90s, 2000’s and beyond struggle with this. Because of our upbringing, we want to be the model child or the good child, like our mothers taught us. To be Proverbs 31 women. It is hard to shed the good child (woman) role that society has placed on us but we sometimes also have to realize that sometimes the black sheep is the role to take. It is not the popular role, The fight to say I will not go take the path that my female ancestors and living mother figures have taken before me.

People think black sheep have it easy. They don’t. It is easier to conform than be different. When you try to be different in any way, society will label you and also in many cases, find a way to punish you. So that you can be an example to other people about what happens when you step out of line.

Anyway, this rant was supposed to be a tweet but it needed more wings.  I guess if you are a black sheep you always have to have your guard up. The road can be lonely and sometimes you look over at the other path and there are many people walking together. Sometimes you just want to belong but to belong is to deny yourself and who you really are.

Don’t give up if you are the black sheep. You will find your people. They may not be many but don’t walk a path where in order to fit in, you must shrink yourself, be unhappy just so that you fit in. It is ok to be a black sheep. Carry your label with pride. As long as you being a black sheep is not hurting anyone (social standing doesn’t count), be you. Being the black sheep isn’t bad, it can be lonely sometimes (but people who are white sheep feel lonely too), but in the end, it is an adventure.

“I’ve been called rebellious, weird, a black sheep, different … because I refuse to be what everyone else it … I stand by who I am.” Lisa Robinson

So are you the black sheep? Does it bother you that people directly or indirectly call you the black sheep or do you enjoy it?

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Potentash Founder. A creative writer and editor at Potentash. Passionate about telling African stories. Find me at [email protected]