Being the Black Sheep

I am my mom’s only son. I have three half siblings on my dad’s side.

In terms on extended family, on my mom’s side, it’s me and my two cousins. Both from my mom’s older brother, who is an Anesthesiologists. On my dad’s side, the side that actually feels like extended family, I’m the oldest male cousin. In terms of a Nicaraguan family, that is a big deal. Something I’m now slowing coming to terms with.

I am also the only cousin whose parents were never married. My parents split up when I was around two years old. For most of my childhood, I only saw my dad two weekends a month.

The rest of my early childhood development years, I tried to figure out different ways to entertain myself while being alone. Which mostly consisted of friends, girls, and video games.

I did have an uncle (my mom’s younger brother), he was only eleven years older than me and treated me like his little brother. He was the closest thing I have ever had to a sibling, really.

But, he was also the worst possible role model for me.

I know that seeing his massive failures and struggles in life helped me stay away from making the same mistakes. So, I take that as my positive from the situation and move forward.

Until I was eleven, I had no “siblings”, it was just me. After fourteen, it was mainly just me again, having to deal with the trials and tribulations of adolescence, by myself.

During my teenage years, my mom and I didn’t have any sort of relationship to speak of either. So, I was in my room or out with friends and their families.

Friends have always been like my siblings. Whether they knew it or not, growing up my friends and their families acted like my surrogate family. Since a family life of my own was non-existent.

I looked to my friends for absolutely everything. What they thought of me was everything and letting them down was the worst possible thing that I could do.

These people chose to take me into their lives and knowing that if I ever wronged them, still to this day, truly hurts me. I always felt like the kid that didn’t have an actual family to go home to and looking back, these adults and families knew it too.

They willfully and graciously fed me and allowed me to stay over. I am so grateful and appreciative to all my friend’s families growing up for doing that for me when they didn’t have to.

Not only did I feel like a burden to my mom and my dad, but I felt like a real burden to my friend’s families. I’d spend as much time at their houses as I did at my own.

The last place I wanted to be was home. Home meant alone, in my room, with no one else to talk to.

Luckily for me, AOL Instant Messenger(AIM) was becoming popular when I was in middle school and high school, so I was able to talk to my friends instantly at home too.

Even though there were outlets for me, I had a feeling of being the outlier who didn’t have a place or purpose.

Being the one who didn’t really belong has always been in the back of my mind. Going from one social group to the next seemed to be a normal occurrence for me, as I couldn’t find a consistent niche in a group for more than a couple years.

My anxiety, depression, self-mutilation and romanticizing suicide didn’t make it any easier to be around me either.

Whether it was girlfriends, best friends that were girls, or my couple guy best friends, dealing with my daily and sometimes hourly mood swings must have been a nightmare for people trying to figure out their own issues.

I would place so much on them, it is no wonder things ended the way they did sometimes. The alienation that I put myself through while going through those dark issues only made me become that much more distant from those that loved me and wanted to help me.

When you are the black sheep, you have to accept some of the responsibility for becoming the black sheep because along the way, it became a conscious decision as much as an inevitability.

I do not believe in the Christian God, like the majority of my family, even though my father is a pastor.

I openly speak about my daily cannabis use and my recent psychedelic experiences, unlike the majority of my family who don’t do any of that. I see the world through sometimes controversial and conspiratorial lenses that I am also not afraid to talk about.

Choosing to not pursue a college education in a manner that my family would prefer and have no plans of changing that in the future.

I want my life to be about experiences, traveling and writing.

Which some in my family and people around me think is “a little out there”. All of these opinions will not change who I am or what I will do with my life. They ultimately fuel me to pursue these dreams and goals.

When I was younger, I didn’t understand the significance of what being the black sheep would mean for me as I got older.

I saw myself as the loser, the loner, the mistake nobody wanted. The kid who was always trying to fit in so that he wasn’t left out, like he was with his family. When I was in high school, I had friends at every school in the area.

Always the kid from the other side of town, who lived in the one bedroom apartment with his single mom. The poor kid amongst the well-off. That kid parents didn’t want their daughters bringing home. I’m not going to lie though, I know I won some of those families over who didn’t approve of me at first.

I have learned a lot about how people perceive me and how none of that matters at all. All that matters is how I perceive myself.

When your family looks at you as the druggie, hippie, prodigal son who has moved off to live in the forests of the Pacific Northwest and wherever else in the world, there is only one thing left to do.

Full acceptance of myself, my path, journey, way of life, everything needed to happen. Especially after 26 years of questioning my own existence down to whether or not I should even be alive, full acceptance was the way to go.

Understanding that being the black sheep of the family is not a bad thing. Releasing myself from the clutches of a family who wanted to suppress my thinking and ability to live however I chose was the only option left.

In an attempt to be true to myself and allow myself to live the life I wanted, moving away from it all made the most sense.

I want to reach out to my fellow black sheep who are reading this right now.

It’s all going to be okay.

Being accepted by your family or by people in general isn’t everything. It should really be the last thing to concern yourself with. Accepting yourself should take precedent over everything else.

First, coming to know exactly who you are, why you are here and what you are going to do with this opportunity. Then, sharing those things with your friends and loved ones. Lastly, not caring at all about the skepticism, criticism, or alienation that may arise as a result of your sharing.

You are who you are for a reason. Anyone who tries to suppress you in reaching your full potential doesn’t deserve to be in your life, no matter who they are.

You may not be in all the family pictures, get invited to the family functions, or know what it is like to have the close family bond. However, remind yourself of this, you’re meant for more.

Which you can easily create for yourself with your own partner and children. As black sheep we understand limitations. Those enforced by both ourselves and others. We can’t limit ourselves from having experience as adults that we didn’t get to have as children.

Don’t cheat yourself out of something twice. As adults, we must learn from the lessons and hardships of our childhood and adolescence. Learn how to capitalize on our resilience and savviness.

Put our uniqueness towards something productive and positive instead of the alternative. As black sheep we our bound for greatness.

Being the black sheep is a blessing more than a curse.

I hope that this article helped those who feel as though they are the black sheep, know they are the black sheep or people who are wanting to understand someone they know and love that is a black sheep.

We are labeled as the weirdos, outcasts, drifters, vagabonds, wanders, liberals, etc..

Some of us have gone off to the deep end in one way or another, while the others are struggling to stay afloat in the shallow end. We all approach this current existence completely different, coping with our idiosyncrasies and quirks the best that we can.

Embrace, embrace, embrace.

There is no one else like you and that is more liberating than frightening, I promise. It’s all about perspective, which as black sheep, we have.

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