I just want to be normal.
These were the words I would say to myself every day growing up.
As a child, all I wanted to be was normal. I tried so hard to repress my true self so that I would fit in. I know I’m not alone and that many of us have done the same. After all, it’s human nature to desire to belong. I spent my childhood as an outcast. I would often be alone on the playground as everyone else played in their groups or in pairs.
It hurt whenever children would tell me to be less weird because I thought I was just being myself. I didn’t know I was weird initially. As an adult, being called weird doesn’t hurt at all but as a child, it was a horrifying label.
When you are always left alone, the one thing you really want is to find a friend. Sure, there were times when I would have a best friend, but as with many childhood relationships, they were tenuous at best and I would often be cast aside for someone better. The truth is, the other kids weren’t actually better than me; I was just too young to know that.
In order to make friends and not be an outcast, I started doing and wearing what the other “normal” children did. I didn’t have any desire to be popular, I just wanted to not be picked on anymore. Today, we live in an age where we recognize bullying in its many forms, but back in the 1980s, it wasn’t out there or talked about as much as it is now.
I spent my days in fear of being picked on or made fun of. It sucked. Anyone who has ever experienced bullying knows just how much it harms your self-esteem and sense of who you are. I just wanted to blend in and not make any waves, so I tamped down my personality for people to like me.
The thing is, it didn’t help much. I still never made many friends and now, I was miserable because I was suppressing my true self—the weird self. I’d like to say that I was able to find my confidence after high school, but it took me until my 30s before I finally let go of the feeling that I had to fit in.
Part of the change happened because I was just so over worrying about what other people thought of me. By that time, I had given birth to four children and had multiple interesting careers. Even then, it took a few years before I could fully relish my weirdness.
Once I finally let go of the expectations of other people, my life changed. I started to let my true, weird, freakish personality come out. I shaved my head and started dying it off-the-wall colors. My clothing went from basic, can be found in any store, to the most amazing horror-inspired wardrobe.
My younger self would be shocked at the person I am now. I don’t care what other people think or say about me; I do and say what I want. I’ve become more direct in my words because being authentic to myself is now more important than following any bullsh*t rules of politeness.
The truth is, being weird is interesting. I love to see different people—people who don’t blend in and who are happy in being themselves. This helped me allow myself to be who I truly am because I saw how happy they were too.
If you’ve ever been an outcast or called weird, just know that your wonderful self is good enough. That once you embrace all your quirks and passions, you’ll be happy.
There is no joy in living for others people’s ideas or thoughts about how your life should be. The joy comes from being yourself—authentic and true.