I've been serving on the board of trustees of a national organization for the last couple of years. I have a different set of values than most of the other board member. I don't drink or smoke, and I don't even drink coffee or tea. Yes, I happen to be a Latter-day Saint, or Mormon to some. I don't party in the same way most of them do, and I also have some pretty conservative views on certain social issues of the day, particularly what makes a "marriage."
One member of the organization came up to me and asked me if I drank or smoked. I told her I didn't and that generally Latter-day Saints don't drink or smoke, or drink coffee or tea. She said "I wondered if that was why you look so healthy. All of the Mormons I know look so healthy and I never knew why." Because of the timing and the setting I missed the opportunity then to explain why.
Yesterday I had finished a pretty exhausting week of board meetings and other meetings with this organization. I was sitting in a meeting with a bottle of Dr. Pepper, which I had had to roam the city to find in this New England town, when another board member came up to me, shocked, telling me that the Dr. Pepper had caffeine in it. I explained that was the purpose for having the Dr. Pepper, and she smiled and left. Another board member came to sit down by me and we chatted about the Dr. Pepper and other things unique to Latter-day Saints and the propriety of my drinking it. After we talked for a moment, she said, somewhat out of nowhere, that I was certainly "the exotic bird" on the board.
I guess I never thought of myself as an "exotic bird." I'm just me and usually I've thought I was pretty boring. But, I guess if it helps me maintain my values, and if it helps others on the board remember what my values are, I'm okay with being the "exotic bird" on the board. I just hope I'm not a dopey looking exotic bird like the small blue Budgerigar. I'd rather be remembered as something a little more regal.