Eccentricity. The quality of being eccentric.
I have always been a little off-centre. Slightly different. As a child I had a pet hankie called Miriam. I had a tiny little black hat that had come from a toy - I used to paint a face on my middle finger, put the hat on and make my finger into Aleister Crowley. I was 9 - go figure!
I have never felt the need to ascribe to popular fashion - I wear what I want, when I want. If I like it I buy it.
When my peers were listening to Take That and Boyzone, I was listening to Iron Maiden and musicals. In sixth form when my friends had posters of Brad Pitt and Leonardo di Caprio in their little corner of the common room I had postcards of Henry VIII and his six wives. The beauty of my school was that individualism was encouraged and celebrated. There was no feeling that you had to conform to a certain stereotype which is so important in my opinion.
But with glorious eccentricity I was blessed with the hide of a Rhino. In short I don't care what people think of me. I sailed through school and university completely secure in myself. Happy in the way I dressed, the way I looked. I have never sought nor needed validation from people to be happy in my choices. People used to say I was odd, weird even. I used to simply feel sorry for them because they were so desperately mainstream.
Even now I'm definitely different from the other parents at Emily's school. In more subtle ways these days but I have a nose piercing and some visible tattoos. But still I don't care. I love me, my husband and daughter love me and that's what matters.
I really hope that I can instill in Emily the same attitude. That it is OK to be just what you want to be without having to act or dress or behave a certain way to gain approval. That if people don't like you for what you are or what you wear or what you listen to then they really aren't worth knowing in the first place. I see girls and boys walking past to the local secondary school in the morning and they are all identical. Same hair, same bags, same clothes (those in the sixth form don't wear uniform). It makes me so sad that there is no individuality. Just endless clones of what someone has deemed to be the way to be.
It is so, so important to me that my child goes through life being happy. I just hope I do a good enough job that she can be happy with herself and have the courage of her convictions first and foremost. That she can be just who she wants to be and doesn't need to adhere to a prescription of how she has to dress and act and think. Then I think I will have made a success of being a parent.