Updated: Jan 26
So I was just born the black sheep. No dad, and I do mean this literally, it wasn't just that they were broken up but his identity was a closely guarded secret that I myself didn't find out until I was about 5. When there is no male figure, people feel that they can tell your mother and consequently you exactly who and what you should be. When you don't abide by these things, you become the black sheep. Honestly this caused me a lot of stress as a child, constantly wanting to people please but yet unable to resist the allure of being the flamboyant, eccentric me that was so fun. Being a teenager was the best for me because although I probably had some of the worse arguments, fallouts and mash-up and tear downs with my family I was unapologetically me. The BRIT School did more for me than anyone can ever really know unless you're another BRIT student who found a whole family of black sheep and were celebrated for your differences.
I have never felt like the black sheep and did not realise growing up that my sister felt this way. There are members of the family that as a child and my early adulthood I saw as black sheep but did not know how to broach the subject or changed the situation. I often felt that if I was different towards them that that would make it better but I often ended up being attacked by them (because this was how they dealt with everyone) or lead them to tears with my me ness, which was just kindness.
Why were they the black sheep, they didn't accomplish much, they didn't look like their better looking siblings, they were darker than the others or lighter for at least one. What did they all have in common they were not accepted for who they were but what they could be if only....
Growing up my sister and my mum were the most popular members of the family. Everyone wanted to live with Aunty or have my big sister but without me! As I've gotten older I have realised that me, my mum and sister were tighter than a ducks backside and the only way they felt they could get in was to get rid of the weakest link and that link was me. For years I dealt with people telling lies about me or smearing my reputation when opportunities arose for me. This lead to me not trusting my family for years and effectively removing myself from the fold, I played right into their hands. Whether I was or wasn't (because I certainly wasn't in the eyes of my mum or sister) I allowed them to make me the black sheep. Only when I emerged from the cocoon of insecurity as a graciously, competent and confident multicoloured butterfly (literally guys, my hair was my ever changing canvas) did those same people start saying "you know I've always loved how you are." I say this to say that their sudden adulation actually meant nothing to me, and it was in this moment that I realised that they were only able to make me the black sheep because I let them.
Now if you're that someone that's always pointing out how different or non-achieving someone in your family or friend circle is, check yourself. Why is this an issue for you? Why is how they live their lives having such an affect on you? What makes you need to comment, or highlight their shortcomings? Be honest, does it detract from your own failings? Is it a distraction that means people won't find out your secrets? Or are you secretly jealous of their ability to just be regardless of the opinions, rules, traditions of others? Respect is the biggest factor of why people treat the Black Sheep differently particularly in a negative way. When they cannot, will not, do not, respect the person then they feel they can comment, rule over or even just dismiss their very existence.
As the black sheep is usually the individual in the crowd their title, although meaning to be derogatory is actually fitting. The rest of the sheep are following the herd, the shepherd, the leader, whether they know where they are going or not. The benefits of the black sheep with a strong character is that they get to be outspoken, outlandish, eccentric or just whatever, because the expectation of the herd is not upon them. Now, the effect of the black sheep title on the vulnerable, is a whole different ting. It leads to feelings of being downtrodden, and fighting internal demons that to the rest of the world do not make sense. Their self worth is tied to the afflictions the label brings, to the bitterness of the perpetrators and to the unhealed pains of childhood trauma.
Why do you need to know this? Well, if your not the black sheep and you don't make others feel that way, I guarantee you know someone who is, they are the person who always appears to be misunderstood, they at the event but not inner da ting, they are at the table but not a part of the meal, open your eyes sis that person you are thinking of, is a black sheep! Not only are they the black sheep, they are more often than not, having to fight back the shadows whether they are the strong or the vulnerable.
Honestly a little recognition of "I see you" goes a long way. These moments - for the black sheep - will strengthen ties, extend relationships and creates a family for them. Family is power, family is solidarity, family is wholeness and being a part of. A strong black sheep will create their own family with all the values and morals they appreciate, a vulnerable black sheep will keep trying or just begin to exist rather than live their life.