Ever since I started on this journey as a freelance writer and professional blogger, I’ve felt different than almost everyone else around me. When I look at the overwhelming majority of people that I know from high school and university, almost all of them have some sort of traditional job. They might be in communications, they might be in the sciences, they might be in a medical field, but it’s a job in the most conventional sense of the word.
And there is certainly nothing wrong with that. I just decided that it wasn’t for me.
But even now that I’ve had my online business and my online career for more than a decade, I still feel different. I’m not sure if I feel like a fish out of water, like I’m sticking out like a sore thumb, or if I really am unique (just like everybody else). And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that either.
One of These Things Is Not Like the Other
Let me illustrate this with a couple of recent examples in my professional blogging life. Ever since becoming a father, the world of “parenting” has become a really big part of who I am, both personally and professionally. I blog about my life as a dad and I’m increasingly interested in so many of the related matters.
To this end, I’ve been getting involved in things that never really interested me all that much before. Here in Vancouver, there is a family expo that highlights the many aspects of raising a healthy family. There are vendors with all natural foods, vendors with sports programs for kids, and so on. And this expo gathers together a group of “blog ambassadors” and “social media ambassadors” to help promote the event each year.
I was invited to be one such ambassador. Going over the list of names, of which there are about 20 or so, it appears that I am the only dad. I’m the only “dad blogger” in what is otherwise a giant group of “mommy bloggers.” And I don’t want to take anything away from the “mommy blogger” community, but it has certainly been a strange experience for me thus far. The perspective is just… different.
Similarly, I’m a member of a closed group on Facebook for local bloggers. We use it to exchange ideas and to support each other’s work. And, as far as I can gather (at least among active members), I might be the only dad there too. It’s a lot of mommy bloggers. There’s one blog that positions itself as a husband and wife team, but I only ever see the wife post anything on Facebook. Go figure.
But I’ve always felt like the odd one out. Like I stick out.
I’m Different (and That’s Okay)
Even in the context of freelance writing, and this might be entirely in my own head, I sometimes get the sense that my “ethnic” last name might make some clients assume I’m not a native English speaker. This is despite being born and raised in Canada. This is despite pursuing a good proportion of my university education in English literature. But they don’t know that. So, I have to present myself accordingly so they can recognize my value as a writer.
It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to feel different. If anything, it might even give you a competitive advantage. As the only “dad” representative among the blog ambassador group, I may be more likely to get singled out for related opportunities. I could be a force for change, even if that wasn’t really my intention in the first place.
Unique Selling Proposition
John has said for a number of years now that he is sometimes the only dad at some of Sally’s activities. I know the feeling. You might be older than the other people in the group. You might be younger. You might be taller, shorter, darker, lighter, maler or femaler. All these attributes contribute to who you are, so embrace them all.
Be you. Be the real you. Remember that someone had to be the first fish out of water for us to have amphibians, reptiles and the rest of the evolutionary chain. Will it be you?