I’ve kind of always been a weirdo. I was reading fluently by the time I started kindergarten, so that put me ahead of the pack. I wasn’t good at making friends – I remember looping around the school yard all by myself. I was not good at sports. I was, however, pretty good at entertaining a few of the other children in class. I knew two girls named Jennifer and when they sat on either side of me I called myself a Jennifer sandwich. I colored things in such a way that made the kids giggle. I don’t know how or why this worked the way it did, but it did.
I moved around a whole lot and went to a lot of different schools. At one point I wanted to give up on making friends. In fact, I did. I spent lunch and recess hiding in a corner. I never finished writing assignments because I would write and write and write while the other kids would sit, thinking of how to attack a topic. I’m not sure if that made me weird, but it did make me different.
It’s not that I didn’t try. Generally the students were lower income and didn’t worry too much about clothes, however, the last elementary school I went to was quite affluent and on Fridays we were supposed to wear red shirts. My mom, who was desperate to find anything to help me, took me to the store to get the clothes that I described everyone as wearing. There were Guess jeans (remember those) and red fashionable t-shirts but the were so ridiculously priced I didn’t want them. Take me to the 5 and 10 dollar store. I appreciated that more. I didn’t care one way or the other.
I believe it was at that point I gave up. I was tired of trying to be someone I was not. It never worked out right, and to be honest it didn’t really matter to me that much. I decided to give up all of this and just be myself.
About that time I met some wonderful, quirky women who were not just like me, but just like themselves. I met M., who wound up being my maid of honor and me hers. I met T., who just recently got in touch with me. We had a little group of friends – we called ourselves “The Flying Chickens” and wore our denim jackets and multi-colored shoes with pride. I had this thing where I wore two different socks daily. It didn’t stop the rich kids from being mean to me, but it felt good to finally be myself.
This changed things considerably. My mean “friends” told me they were not going to sit with me at lunch the next day. I guess they thought they were being clever, but you know what? It turned out it didn’t matter. For whatever reason I was popular with the unpopular crowd. The other friends sort of dropped by the wayside. If I were to see them, they probably would not be glad to see me. I see that as their fault, not mine.
My feeling about school and friends tended to wax and wane: That will happen if you have undiagnosed juvenile onset bipolar disorder. I spent a year being so depressed I couldn’t do my work. Those were the worst. I asked my mom for counseling and she told me I didn’t need it. I wonder, sometimes, if my life would be better now if she permitted me to do so. My guess is probably not. I was better prepared at 26 to handle my illness and life. I didn’t have a real reason to live then, and now I do.
I did a few things that were life changing. I worked on trails in Yosemite for a summer. I went to a special summer program at the Oregon Shakespeare Company. I was the lead in a first run play. These things made me weirder. I had more experiences other couldn’t relate to. I grew and added more years to my age. Although I wouldn’t trade them for the world, they set me apart from my peers. They made me more weird.
Getting married wasn’t such a weird thing to do, but it is a little strange to have a husband 10+ years older than I am. Having a baby isn’t too weird, but I did nurse her until she was two. And despite warnings we hardly used a stroller. Before she could walk she went everywhere on my back. Once she could walk, I was on my own.
Now I’m a writer, one of the weirdest things one can be. I can get obsessed. I can spent hours on a project. I desperately want you not to feel alone. Life is very hard sometimes, but sometimes it is good anyway.
I love my life a good portion of the time. I’m not reminded so much as how strange I can be. I have good, quirky friends and a very quirky husband. Thanks to the Zoloft I don’t struggle with “Social Anxiety Disorder” something that I believed plagued me all those years. I can go up to a group of people and participate and initiate conversations. I never could have done that before. I don’t claim my quirks are a result of my illness; They can’t be – they’re just me.
Being me isn’t all that bad.