Its a word, an idea, that’s been applied to me in many different ways, and that’s the first thing I want to change about myself. People can tell you that, hey, being weird is okay! And natural! And everyone is weird in their own way! Weird is good! And then they go back to their groups of friends and laugh at you because you’re so weird and god what a freak.
If I were to tell the people that know me now that, when I was younger, I was painfully shy, they would probably laugh and tell me I’m lying. But I still remember myself on the first day of kindergarten, huddled in a corner, scared, crying and wishing I could go back home. Eventually, as my school days progressed, I came out of my shell and made friends, real friends I could have fun with and be myself around. And then, around 6th grade, I realized that ‘myself’ was usually translated to ‘weird’ when other people talked about me. And I was weird – I wore different colored socks, sang loudly at lunch with my friends, and wrote silly stories in class and shared them without any shame, and read badly written fanfiction in the middle of the night.
My middle school was one of those “advanced honors” program middle schools, so everyone else in my class seemed to have their head in a textbook 24/7, complaining about an A minus on a test while I struggled and earned low Bs and Cs. Along with my horrible sense of fashion (It took me a surprisingly long time to learn that plaid and stripes do not mix) and general weird demeanor, this did not bode well for me. I went through three years of school totally oblivious to the fact that my best friends and I were social outcasts. I may have gone on in blissful ignorance, except for the fact that my outcast best friends all went to different high schools, and I instead wound up at the school where all my…other classmates were.
It was hard to adjust to a school where all my classmates were already deemed to be geniuses, all winning piano competitions and Science Olympiad medals, math bowls and essay writing contests, but all I was known as was “that one weird kid that hung out with other weird kids and was kind of stupid”. On top of that, I had to make friends with the geniuses – I, a mere mortal, mingling with gods.
And it wasn’t like these gods/geniuses/classmates were socially inept either – oh no, they knew exactly how to act in every situation. They were quite and poised for their parents, talkative and persuasive in debate class, reserved but polite for teachers, and joking and jovial with other classmates. Meanwhile, I was on the side, my weirdness and general social awkwardness seeping through into every situation. People who talked to me generally kept a metaphorical six foot radius away from me.
I eventually did make some great friends, but compared to their social grace in seemingly every situation, I still stand out, feeling more like a pity friend, or a jester than anything else. I’m still super weird – I make self derogatory jokes just to make other laugh and I half a horrible affinity for puns which just kills every conversation. I still read (and write) fanfiction and don’t hide my loud and almost obnoxious nature. I’m that friend, essentially, the one that no one wants to bring home to their parents but the one that everyone wants to bring to the party in order to make fun of. Even though I’m finally part of the crowd, not in a corner by myself, my presence is one that everyone could easily do without, and I am someone that no one takes seriously.
I would like to change. I would like to become someone I am not – quite, poised, reserved, only talking when I need to – and not for their sake or for what they think, but because I am so goddamn tired of being relentlessly known as the weird one, the one that’s ‘out there’, the one that’s kind of a freak. I’m so tired of no one really taking my ideas and feelings seriously and no one thinking I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, I’m hardworking enough. All of life is about labels, whether we like it or not. When people label you in different ways, its our job to understand those labels and realize that we don’t have to bend to them.
I’m tired of weird being stuck to me, and I’m going to tear it off.