Oh I’ve wrestled with this one many times. Or just observed it, being thrown back and forth at various people.
So often I’ve seen people complain about “special snowflakes” and try to feel better about themselves by asserting that anyone who is not cis & straight or who has a slightly uncommon neurodivergence must just want attention and to be special.
For a long time I wondered why people do this. Why they really, deeply need to believe that everyone else is an attention-seeking faker.
Well. I understand now. Years after the special-snowflake-crying hellstorm of Tumblr in 2012.
I finally understand why these people are so angry. I know why they feel the need to tear people down for “trying to be special”.
These people are angry they aren’t allowed or allowing themselves to be special.
These people are so angry that they were so mistreated for being different, or so angry with themselves that they allowed fears of rejection to stop them from being themselves, they cannot stand anyone else openly claiming difference.
It’s understandable and fair to be angry and jealous about that. What isn’t fair is turning your personal feelings into a campaign to destroy other people, individually or in groups.
These people, these gatekeepers, these bullies, are not enforcers of “real and genuine” communities.
They are enforcers of the status quo. They are enforcers of “Different is wrong so be ready to suffer for it”. They are enforcers of “The medical establishment has all say on who is what” (even gender identity). They are enforcers of “How dare you know yourself? Only others may define you.”
I used to fear these people, and worry they were right about me.
But now I see that they’re afraid, and angry, and consciously or not, stand for everything I despise and actively work so hard to dismantle. Their opinions come from basic values I do not agree with. Their motivations are cruel & abusive at worst, and misguided & harmful at best.
I think I can be free of them now, or soon. I hope you can be too some day if you’re not already. These people are trying to preserve a world that makes sense to them. A world where difference is not easily accepted because they cannot make sense of it, benefit from conformity or cannot stand the idea of someone else suffering less for the things they want in life. None of these motivations lead to conclusions worth listening to.
You know you. And I know me. And we are free to be who we are and declare who we are. Many people will oppose us and even harm us extensively. But they can’t change who we are and make us less special.
The secret is, you can’t just be “trying to be special”–you are special. Everyone is special. Yeah, yeah I sound like a children’s show but that’s why they put this in children’s shows. It’s really important to let people be who they are, to celebrate difference and being special. It’s really important to remind people that the things less common about them are not bad and that it is completely okay and healthy and awesome to seek others who are special and different in ways similar to you. It’s okay to not find people like you too, that doesn’t mean you do not exist as you see yourself.
Everyone is special. Most may try to hide it, but we are all special. And if you’re specialness is marginalized that means you need support, not ridicule and exclusion.
Most people also want attention. These are empty insults. They are only insulting if you’ve been taught and have internalized that being different is shameful and love is scarce and not worth seeking.
So next time someone tries to hurl these at me, this is what I’ll say, and maybe what you can say too:
“Special snowflake” – Yeah I am. So are you. I’m sorry you’re ashamed of that.
“You just want attention.” – Yeah, I do. So do you. I’m sorry you’re ashamed of that.