A former colleague of mine once sent me a thank you card, in which she described me as a “unique individual”. That comment really stuck with me, since childhood I was told by my siblings that I was dropped off in the wrong house, as a joke. I was different in many ways in how I thought, my moods, my taste, and the fact that I never felt like I belonged anywhere. Even though I come from a loving and tight-knit family unit, the recurring voice in my head was always “I want to go home!” Perhaps my sisters were right, and that I was like ET!

Although I never really “phoned home” to get picked up. As I grew up, I learned to conform to what was expected by my family, my peers, and society, all the while with a nagging thought: “You don’t have to conform”!

So, I rebelled in small ways when I could satisfy that inner voice, but in general, lost all self-confidence in my abilities. Even though I excelled in school and in my profession, something was always “off” inside. Something kept saying this is not what you are supposed to be doing. To the point that I really stopped knowing what it was that I really wanted to be since it did not fit into the formula, I was following.

The years that I spent working in scientific research, and learning about statistics and outliers in healthcare, made me even more sure that what I was feeling inside was not a delusion but had some ring of truth. Now I understand that to be able to apply any treatment to a large population, you have to consider the majority who fit under the “Bell” curve. It would be a nightmare to try to fit the treatment and its applications to everyone. Therefore, the ones whose outcomes were most desirable represented “everyone”.

I spent more than half of my life in the world of medicine, during which I noticed that not everyone reacted the same way to a treatment. Yet in many cases, the doctors were not given enough time and opportunity to customize the treatments and had to keep changing the same routine with a different twist, hoping it would be the right one. I am not here to judge the system. It is what it is.

But more and more I started to notice the outliers rather than the majority and wondered what would happen to them.

The basic techniques of each profession can be applied to a majority. But the intricacies of how those tools are applied need to be customized to the individual.

These days, as I have launched my own practice, and looking into how I can serve and which population has not had enough support in the grief space I am practicing, I realize that no matter how many people I can reach, there would still be that outlier. The one my brand of practice cannot help. For every outlier, there exists a practitioner they will resonate with.

Some people benefit from reliving their traumas so they can heal. For others re-living the event brings more angst. They may have been doing fine before that was brought into their consciousness. And a good therapist, counselor, and healthcare professional, need to consider that first before they start treating someone from their one size fits all training. It’s all about getting to know your client, as well as timing. And as a client, when you consider a provider or therapist, be cognizant of your needs and choose one who is compatible with you and your uniqueness!

We are like snowflakes. Each with its unique attributes. Every one of us has a right to be an outlier. And each of us needs to get clear enough to know what we need, ask for it, and go for it. If everyone conformed to a societal formula, there would never be any inventions or epiphanies. Imagine what kind of a world that would have been where “no one” colored outside the lines.

Be a unique snowflake. Don’t settle. You never know how that can change the world….

Your Fellow traveler,  Shabnam