I was at work the other day, walking to the office refrigerator to chill my Diet Coke. I opened the fridge door, placed my Diet Coke inside, and at that moment, I realized my silver and red soda can was sitting amongst a sea of Pepsi cans. (My workplace is a Pepsi-exclusive environment.)
I am a Diet Coke Girl in a Pepsi workplace, I thought to myself.
But what was fascinating is this sentiment accurately describes how I’ve felt nearly my entire life. I’ve always felt more like the loner in the crowd; the different kid on the playground. The “one of these things is not like the other.” How aptly my soda choice mirrors my own reality.
As I was growing up, I spent much of my time alone and with my own thoughts. And please don’t feel sorry for me; in many ways, I liked that. That solitude is probably what fueled my creativity and why I love writing as much as I do. But as much as I enjoyed my “me time,” it was difficult because growing up, you’re not supposed to feel that way. You’re supposed to have a group of friends to hang out with at any time. You’re supposed to want to spend time with the popular kids and not your mom. Childhood, teenage years, and high school are hard enough. But throw in those conflicting feelings and you do tend to feel like an outsider.
It wasn’t until I went to college did I feel like I fit in with my surroundings. Professionally, I’ve been lucky to find job situations that appreciated and embraced my love of Diet Coke (literally and figuratively).
However, the conflicts arise for me when my Diet Coke preference didn’t jive with the Pepsi mentality around me. And that always brings me back to the more isolated part of me; the one that reminds me I often think differently and don’t fit in the way others do.
I’m sure I’ll have moments throughout the rest of my life where I feel like a Diet Coke girl in a Pepsi world. Given my soda preference, that will literally be true at work. And that’s okay with me. I enjoying my “me time,” writing, and sipping my trusty Diet Coke.