When it comes to almost any default, I tend to be the exception.
Local phone numbers that are required to acquire a local phone number, local references in places I’ve never been or met anyone from, and identifiers (like the Social Security number-like kennitala in Iceland) that I wasn’t born with.
I notice this distinction when I’m filling out online forms that have certain required fields which don’t apply to me. I spend a handful of minutes checking the right boxes, giving away my privacy in exchange for some kind of membership or subscription or required certification, only to get to the end and find a box I have no honest way of filling in.
This can be upsetting. It draws a clear line in the sand between ‘us’ and ‘everyone else.’ Those who can fill out this form, and those who cannot. If you can’t, sorry. No (desired item) for you.
I’ve grown accustomed to this status over the past few years, however, and now I tend to embrace it.
Being the exception makes doing vanilla tasks difficult, but it makes everything else a whole lot easier. When there are fewer standards to uphold, there are fewer boxes for people to cram you and your actions into. If you’re an unknown quantity, it means that anything you do could be normal. Any strange habits or alternative lifestyle choices you wish to make are suddenly okay, because those around you have no yardstick by which to measure your actions.
Being the exception, whether it’s because of your geography, your background, your professional path or anything else, gives you an excuse to be exceptional.
Don’t waste that opportunity.
Update: February 14, 2017
Today I’ll usually describe this in terms of sharpening our rough edges instead of sanding them down. Being uniquely us-shaped, rather than trying so hard to fit underneath society’s pre-built cookie-cutters.