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Odd one Out

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

A white light bulb amidst a row of pink ones
Odd One Out

I have never been one to 'run with the crowd', I like to stand out.

Particularly since leaving the military, I have absolutely, wholeheartedly, embraced the ability to be an individual and have my own individual style.

An example of this would be my ever-changing hairstyles and colours, ranging from purple locks to full-on bollock head in aid of the Macmillan campaign 'Brave the Shave' (which I loved by the way!).

However, when I use the phrase 'odd one out' it isn't a positive phrase. What does the phrase 'odd one out' mean?

odd one out = odd man out someone or something that is different to the others someone who is not able to fit easily or comfortably into a group or society

As a lass in the military, I was the odd one out, simply because I have a vajayjay and a pair of baps.

Often I would find myself the only one of my kind on a squadron that could contain up to 90 personnel.

Upon becoming a veteran, I had this preconceived idea that this issue would no longer present itself, well not as much at least (I'm an engineer by trade so expected it a little).

I assumed it would be easier.

Yet in 'civvy street' I find myself further embedded into the odd one out camp, in fact, I sometimes feel like the queen of the odd ones out!

Ultimately my time in the RAF has shaped who I am as a person, as I'm sure everyone's service has to some degree.

The shape of me (other than a potato these days) is a heady mix of femininity and masculinity.

Since leaving the RAF I have often been referred to as androgynous... I had to google what this meant at first...

but OK. I am good with this...

Proud of this...

In fact, it often scores me wife points with my handsome husband (I'm punching so I need these!).

In service, women as a community are few and far between, making up only 11% across all 3 services.

We are continually pitted against our peers that are predominately male, having to prove ourselves in all aspects of our career.

We are trained to be strong, confident, capable, highly skilled, and driven individuals because that's what the military need to operate, what we need to be able to survive in extreme environments and take on levels of responsibilities that the average civilian, male or female, will never comprehend.

On top of this, I believe we learn very quickly to suppress our emotions in a bid to avoid being branded 'tits and tears', god forbid we as women get emotional!

Our femininity is quashed from the moment we arrive at basic training, immediately stripped of any feminine styling such as makeup, nail varnish, jewellery, etc even our body shape is cloaked by the ill-fitting uniforms made for men!

me in my uniform giving a thumbs up stood near a helicopter with a sign saying designated smoking area... Im not smoking either a cigarette or in appearance!
I'm not smoking either a cigarette or in appearance!

Don't get me wrong, we are still recognised as women and we still have to traverse the vast gender inequality gaps still present within service, my point is that during service we do conform to very high masculine standards, resulting in what some may call androgynous characteristics.

These adaptations to our fundamental character are indoctrinated within us forever and this works to some degree in service, but in the outside world, in civvy street, not everyone is acquiescent.

In communities of women, I'm often considered blunt, harsh, coarse, and too forward.

A prime example of this was when attempting to make 'new friends' at the local gym.

Went to a body pump class, started casually chatting with the lass next to me, she was nice and appeared to have a similar sense of humour, so at the end of class, I asked her if she fancied going for a coffee...

Well, I'm not sure to be honest if she thought I was coming on to her or I was gonna murder her cos the look of fear and disgust on her face was a picture... she moved quicker out of that class than she did when in it!!!

Suffice to say I never saw her in that class again!

This has happened to me on more than one occasion in some way shape or form.

When discussing this with other women veterans, I came to realise that a lot of civilian women need some kind of 'wooing' first, before embarking on friendship. Which just isnt really a concept in service.

Disclaimer: Not all civvies are like this I must admit, as I now have a small group of fantastic civilian friends, that get me and love me for who I am... you know who are... Big Love!

Ahhh nonetheless... gone are the days when u ask a lass you met 2 mins ago if they fancy going to the NAAFI for a pint or 10 and becoming lifelong pals, after you wake up the following morning spooning each other!

Then there is the other end of the spectrum to navigate, the women that automatically hate you because you get on with their bloke better than she does! #BoreOff

Obviously you are attempting to steal their beloved beer-bellied husband called Keith (Sorry Keith's of the world!) whose hobbies include fishing and picking his arse and regardless of the fact that he is 20 years your senior and you are also married.

Those women who perceive friendly banter and having a laugh, as the equivalent of dropping your knickers (insert eye-roll).

Next we have industry/workplace (insert big sigh and yet another eye-roll), as a women veteran, I tend to be the token hire (positive discrimination at its best) or at least feel like it.

As I obviously have no idea what I am talking about after years of hands on, working experience and numerous academic achievements.

For example; my ideas given and dismissed weeks ago suddenly reappear as innovative and fantastic ideas when Trev (generic male character) from another department regurgitates them.

I don't actually know anyone called Trev but you know what I mean (I hope you can imagine the face I'm making here!).

Followed by the blokes that brand you aggressive or ask if you are on rag week when you are being assertive.

This actually happened to me recently, I had a meeting with a customer that involved several colleagues, the meeting was amicable, we discussed what was possible and what wasn't... there were smiles, laughing and we even shook hands at the end.

One of my colleagues emailed me after and said how well he thought it went and how well I handled all the questions etc. Only to come in the following morning to a scathing email complaint from said customer stating that I was aggressive and unhelpful.

Not gonna lie the email was brutal, I cried and whittled about it for days despite the fact that all colleagues involved confirmed this to be untrue.

With all this in mind, I truly believe women veterans are a breed of their own, often struggling to find their place in society and communities, both during and after service.

How do we find it?

I don't know, currently there is very little research out there or support available for women veterans adding to the evidence pile suggesting that we are a hidden community and fuelling my mission to share my experiences and get women veterans talking, trending even!

These genuinely are my personal experiences told with the usual splattering of dark inappropriate humour and satire, yet nonetheless still true and real.

Upon discussion with my RAF coven, a small group of friends that are women veterans too, my experiences, thoughts, and opinions are not entirely unique.

I continue to struggle to fit in, like I said the Queen of the odd one out.

If I was a Queen I would definitely have multiple swords!

Have you struggled?

Do you know what I'm talking about?

Are you an Odd one Out?

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