Sure, I could put it down to being an Artist, or the fact that physically I am taller than the norm, and yeah perhaps I’m a slightly stubborn person when it comes to following social traditions. What I do know is that I’ve always been this way.
When I was 8 it was my turn to have a Birthday party, so I asked if it could be themed ‘Purple’. Meaning everyone had to come dressed in purple clothing, the food and drink had to be purple and while I can’t recall asking for particular presents, I did end up with many presents that were in fact all purple.
Constant questions to commence some kind of life defining activity, such as:
What is your favorite food?
What is your favorite number?
What is your favorite animal?
What is your favorite colour?
My first dilemma with these questions was that I had absolutely no idea how to even fake answering them. Which yes, I remember doing a fair bit in primary school. Pretending I knew the answer, when in fact I often had no idea. I had been too busy daydreaming when the question was even asked…oops!
Also I didn’t think about this stuff at age 5. I didn’t have any older siblings that came home from school each day making me feel as though I needed to have this stuff sorted out (as any slightly older person can make you feel). I do remember the strategy I used to answer these questions though and that was by simply pulling stuff from thin air, as fast as possible until they appeared satisfied. The teacher had no idea if it was true or not and neither did my friends, who I might add, seemed to be certain of their answers and able to justify it with actual proof! The only people, who might have twigged that I was telling some sort of porky, would have been my parents because they probably knew that I didn’t really give a hoot about this kind of stuff.
The seed had been planted.
So with all of the free time that a child like myself had, I investigated a range of possible things to favor. I remember taking note of what my friends favored, what my parents favored, what my cousins favored, what the other kids in our street favored. Something became glaringly obvious. Most of my friends favored the same colours. If they were girls they were all declaring pink or purple to be their favorite colour and if they too were the same age as me, they seemed to favor our age as their favorite number! Was it that simple? This is how you answer those pesky questions at school! Ok I get it. Just go with the flow and life will be simple.
So by age 6 I was pretty sure pink was my favorite colour and yep 6 was my favorite number. I still wasn’t sold on a favorite food because I loved pretty much every kind of food I had tried up to that point, but Pizza and Lasagne were popular answers, so they would do for now. As for the ‘my favorite animal’ question, I was able to decide based on the help of some stuffed toys I had been given. There seemed to be a lot of koalas on my toy shelf and come to think of it my Mum had made me a Koala cake when I was in preschool from the Women’s Weekly cake cookbook. So yep, another running theme appeared and I declared koalas to be my fave animal. Done! Talk about spoilt.
I now had answers to these four life-defining questions that I could be confident of and added to that I had some great talking points to rely on when meeting new kids. I could feel like a normal person, taking part in some normal kind of exchange and life would be easier (well for the time being anyway. Who knew that by age 9 you would be confronted with the “Are you a virgin?” question and boy would life suddenly become horrible if you didn’t answer that one right!?!).
Things change, people grow, knowledge is attained and experiences broaden our ways of thinking. By the time I was 8, I hated that my bedroom furniture was bright pink, (despite telling my Mum that yes pink was in fact my favorite colour two short years before) and why did I have to own so many clothes that were pink? Was it just because I was only allowed one favorite colour? (OMG talk about first world problems…!!). I found myself needing more, wanting for something else, wanting for something different and for whatever reason, I decided that purple was a more appropriate colour for me to favor. Perhaps because hardly anyone else in my class liked purple, there were certain things that you could get for boys or girls that came in purple and it certainly wasn’t as outrageous as saying that my favorite colour was blue. Girls can’t like blue, that would have been too weird.
So I took purple and I ran with it, admittedly a little too hard. (Please note: Purple is no longer my favourite colour).
Social norms annoyed me before I even knew what that actually meant. I hated that it was expected we would single something out as our 'favorite', I hated that there were some questions that could only be answered a certain way, if you didn’t want an onslaught of further questions or worse...ridicule! Which lets face it, most kids don’t want. Enough with the questions! Why do we have to justify our choices when they are natural tendencies or merely things we just do without thinking about?
Well there’s your answer. Another question!
Did you know that life is short and time is precious? Yes!
Do you, like me think that life is fascinating and people are weird? Yes!
Come on, people are weird and we do and say such weird things everyday. Why? Because we are all different and different is sometimes considered weird.
Why can’t we all value the same thoughts? Why can’t we all want the same things? Well we just don’t and I think that’s great in itself.
Think about it. Question the stuff you really value and why you value it. Does it go against your grain? Is it unfulfilling? Do you want more from your choices?
Personally I do and despite having hated questions as a 5 year old, I now LOVE them. Questions and ‘questioning’ helps us understand each other, our world and ourselves. There are no singular correct answers when it comes to individuals. Sure there are majorities and popular thoughts and some of those help us connect with one another, but differences can do that as well. Differences can bring so much more to the table than similarities. We can learn more, we can understand more, we can tolerate more and we can be better.
This blog post has certainly eventuated from my excitement for another upcoming, thought provoking event. TedxSouthBank (formerly TedxSouthBankWomen) is happening on December 6 and this year’s theme is ‘Question Everything’. I’m fortunate enough to be taking part again this year in a volunteer capacity and I’m most looking forward to having real conversations with new people about inspiring topics. The high that I get from these types of interactions is exhilarating and it leaves me feeling inspired and creatively rejuvenated for months after. Yes I know I sound like I’m spruiking some sort of wonder drug now, but that’s how I’ve honestly felt after the last two events.
I’m not certain and I have no way of proving this, but I think my life would be very different if I still collected averages before answering questions to guarantee the least amount of ridicule.