"Different: Not the same as another or each other; unlike in nature, form, or quality."
A lot of the time, "different" is used as a way of describing how abnormal people feel, compared to the rest of society. Emily is one of those people.
However, she's about to find out just how positive being different can be.

~ Entry for the Valentine's Day competition ~


1. Different

Emily always had a feeling she was... different. But she wasn't entirely sure how. She was the most socially awkward, introverted person in the group, yes, though that wasn't necessarily unusual. After all, there were others who seemed just as quiet on the outside, yet it didn't seem like they were having the same internal struggle that she was.

The first time she realised just how different she was to everyone she knew was when her older sister got her first boyfriend. The way she talked about him sounded like she saw him as the most important person in the world. And he was, to her. (Well, at least for the 2 weeks it lasted.) This concept confused Emily a lot; how could one person be so amazing that they were put on a pillar above everyone else? What about friends and family? Were they no longer important to you once you started a relationship? These questions only increased her worries, yet her sister merely told her that when she was her age, she would understand.

However, as Emily got older, she only seemed to struggle to comprehend such concepts more and more. She'd heard tales of having 'crushes' and getting into relationships: the butterflies in your stomach, picturing a potential life you can spend with them, having them as the first person you think of in the morning. But they just didn't help. If it was a different experience for everyone, how would she know when it happened to her? Maybe she had already experienced love and hadn't been aware of it. What was the difference between various types of attraction?

She had no idea. Yet, everyone else did. She knew couples in her year that adored each other; some had just mentioned first crushes and kisses in passing; some didn't seem that interested in their own attraction, but could still tell the difference between friends and romantic interests easily. How had everyone figured out their emotions, while she couldn't?

To be honest, it terrified Emily. It felt like something was broken or missing, like there was something seriously wrong with her. For her first teenage years, 'different' seemed to be a negative thing. So, she had to blend in and avoid giving anything away. After all, she didn't understand what her definition of romance was. Maybe she was perfectly normal and just needed to understand this definition more.

By as time continued, the same patterns repeated themselves. She didn't understand attraction, while, to everyone else, it seemed as clear as day. She even looked on the internet to see what other people said, but it only seemed to confuse her more. Sensual, sexual, romantic, aesthetic... why were there so many?! What did they even mean?!

It took a while, but she finally found it. The term showed up on one of her regular websites: Quoiromantic. The moment she saw the word, it felt like it locked into her mind, very quickly changing her perspective of herself and the world around her. There were others all over the world who were quoi (or WTF-romantic, as some jokingly called it), who didn't know how they felt about other people or just rejected the idea of attraction completely. Some may have thought of such an orientation as being 'confused', yet to Emily it meant the world. It meant she had never been broken and the state of mind she'd had for as long as she could remember was perfectly valid.

And, as a result, Emily knew then that being different could be a very good thing.

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