When you think of Bohemianism, you think of a culture that celebrates differences instead of shunning or shying away from them. You think of the free spirit that longs to freely express without bounds.
But let’s face it, being different isn’t always easy, especially when you make an effort to deliberately push yourself beyond the typical social norms and societal bounds. Here we have a quick look at what it takes to let go and own it.
Be The Rose
If you look at a trail of yellow roses and amidst them all is a single red rose, naturally your eyes will most likely gravitate towards the red rose because it stands out amongst a sea of similarities.
Not All Looks Are Bad Looks
But understandably, it is not always easy to feel eyes bearing in on you. It can be rather uncomfortable. You may feel judged or be left to wonder why someone is glancing your way, “is there something in my teeth?”
But I’m here to tell you that not all looks are bad looks. In fact, most often than not, they are more non-judgemental and harmless than you might think. And rather than just apply a broad and negative ‘who cares what anyone else thinks’ attitude, which we will touch on later, there is another, more empathetic and positive approach to owning yourself.
Ignore the Judgy Look - You Do You
I know it is COVID times so perhaps we haven’t been seeing as much of our fellow human companions as we are normally accustomed to as social beings. But for a moment, let’s rewind back to a time where social distancing wasn’t exactly the norm. Think back to a time you’ve passed by someone and for whatever reason, they stood out. Maybe it was the stark blue hair or the bold tattoo designs. Or maybe it was the metal piercings, or perhaps their fashion choice for that day.
For whatever reason, your eyes decided to shift and subconsciously rested there for a moment on that particular individual. Now think of what went through your head. Perhaps it went a little something like this, “what is with that makeup?? Ooh but that shade of blue looks awesome” or “I wonder if that’s her natural colour … I could never pull that off!” or you'll notice that they "don't have a care in the world", temporarily waking you from your own world of problems.
Now, chances are, at one point or another, you were the individual that someone else happened to shift glances towards. At that moment, you may have felt out of place because of that, too. In your perspective, you may have felt judged because you were that difference in the room or setting.
But playing devil’s advocate on this example person’s behalf, they could have been just looking because they were genuinely admiring the vibrant floral, flowy Bohemian Dress and handmade beaded jewellery you were rocking that day. They may have even gone so far as to wonder where on earth they could get their hands on such unique jewellery pieces to add to their own collection!
Use Your Words
Aside from looks or stares, there are other things we do that often make us stand out amongst our peers – and can often lead to dismissive remarks or a dose of questions. For instance, just as many other bohemians, you may identify as vegan. To someone who’s been eating, drinking, and using animal products their whole life, the vegan ideal can come off a bit ‘revolutionary’ at first, due to its novelty in their eyes.
With that, there is most often a lack of understanding of the reason for adopting veganism, but which, handled correctly by you, can simply be treated as curiosity, interest, and a hunger to understand more. Hence, they may proceed to ask questions to get answers to those mental inquiries they were perhaps silently debating whether or not to ask for fear of imposing or coming off as judgemental. However, ultimately the questions come from a non-judgemental place.
With that, there is most often a lack of understanding of the reason for adopting veganism, but which, handled correctly by you, can simply be treated as curiosity, interest, and a hunger to understand more. Hence, they may start to ask questions to get answers to those mental inquiries they were perhaps silently debating whether or not to ask for fear of imposing or coming off as judgemental. However, ultimately the questions don't necessarily come from a judgemental place.
But let’s face it: questions can be intimidating even when they were intended in a non-judgemental way. But the importance lies in realizing that it is an opportunity to verbally express yourself and a learning opportunity for your new friend to understand where you are coming from. As daunting as it initially may be, it essentially puts you in control of the situation as your response can leave a lasting positive impression.
Best case scenario is that both parties leave with a mutually respectful and harmonious understanding towards one another. Perhaps the encounter may even leave the inquirer with a desire to adopt some aspects of your lifestyle. They might end up wanting to give veganism a try after learning about environmental impact, the poor treatment of livestock and incessant hormones accompanied with breeding them.
Or they may decide to opt for faux leather in their next shopping outing because they’ve decided for themselves that it is a more ethical alternative to real leather because the sacrifice to animals is not worth the luxury. The point is that it may have been a simple and short encounter, but the impact may be far more long-lived.
When They ARE Judgy
We have touched on the non-judgemental reactions to standing out. However, what happens in the cases where there is some judgement involved? Where does that judgement come from? Judgement stems from lack of understanding and sometimes a projection of insecurities. If someone is judging you, it is because they have either been exposed to misconceptions or never had the proper chance to acquaint themselves with ideas that are different to theirs.
And also remember, if you hear a snide remark or get a dirty look, rest assured that it has nothing to do with you and has more to do with the person on the other end. Perhaps that encounter will be a positive turning point for them for similar future encounters.
Brighten Each Room You Enter
Bohemianism is built on foundations of straying from the norm and is a culture that prides itself on the celebration of differences. The differences are what give a blank colouring page its vibrant colours and breathe life into it. Express yourself. Be the bohemian you envision yourself to be. Don't let a couple of glances or questions throw you out of your comfort zone or subconsciously hold you back. Instead, work those instances to your and the planet’s advantage. Let them be opportunities for expression and understanding.
Through connecting with and being your true self, you will thrive and your confidence will be apparent to passersby. Whether you realize it or not, you will be an inspiration and a source of admiration to others to push past their own shells and struggles to radiate their own true essence. It's your chance to be the light in a dark room and totally own the freedom that gives you.