If you're anything like me, there's been a point in your life when you wished you were like everyone else. I used to be so sure that if I was "normal," all my problems would disappear. I was a weird kid; I still am. My music ranges from "I want to die" to "I want to kill everyone" to "Life is unicorns and sunshine" to "Everything is misery and pain" to "I just want to fall in love" to "Love is overrated, everyone stay as far away from me as possible."
I'll talk to
you for hours about who the best professional wrestler is, and I'll give you 75
reasons why, even though I know you didn't ask. I don't care about pumpkin
spice lattes, Ugg boots, winged eyeliner, or American Eagle clothes. I don’t
fight with my friends about stupid things because they are far too important to
me. I spend entire days writing and not talking to anyone, I don't like parties
or dances, I'm straightedge, and the list goes on and on.
So, for a long time, I felt like a freak. I felt like an outsider, and I hated myself for it. Why can't I just be normal? If I were, would boys (who I didn't like because they weren't girls) want to date me? Would the girls (who I didn't like because they were fake and plastic) want to be my friends? Would I get invited to parties (that I didn't like because they're full of people I don't like and music I don’t like)?
What a dumb thing to want. I wanted to like what everyone else liked so I could be accepted by the people who didn't want to associate with someone who wasn't just like them. Why?
What if we really were all the same?
Just imagine it.
Everyone wearing the same jeans, the same shoes, liking the same bands, laughing at the same jokes, with the same hairstyles, eating the same food, with the same level of intelligence, the same talents, playing the same sports, everything the same. What's the point?
Doesn’t that just sound extremely depressing?
Let me ask you a question. What appealed to you about your best friend when you first met them? Was it the ways they were similar to you? The ways they were different?
I don't know about you, but for me it was both. My best friend Bella and I have been friends since elementary school, when individuality wasn't even a concept that anyone understood. All I knew was that she was different from the other kids in my class. That was what made me like her.
Now I'm older: old enough to appreciate that. I'm able to see the difference between her and me, but I can also see the ways that she and I are the only people who make a lick of sense in a mad world. Bella has given me the confidence of an us-against-them mentality. That maybe we're insane, but we're the only ones doing crazy right.
If Bella and I were exactly the same, what does she have to offer me that I don't already have? Who wants to look at their friend and see an absolute replica of herself? Who wants to go to someone for advice and hear the exact same words she herself would say?
We are defined as human beings not by how we fit in but by how we stand out. I speak solely from experience. I've tried the whole "fitting in" thing, but the fact of the matter is the only me I'm comfortable with is the one I really am, not the one anyone else wants me to be or thinks I should be. We were not born to live for someone else.
Now that's not to say that similarities don't have their benefits. We often seek out the people who have similar taste in music, similar hobbies, and as we mature, we look for people who have the same ideologies about life as we do.
What would you have to talk about with someone so different than you that every concept familiar to them is completely alien to you?
The balance between similarities and differences is one I've struggled with my whole life, and undoubtedly, it is one we have all run into. But there is at least one person out there for everyone that is similar enough to relate to but different enough to teach you something. About the world, about yourself.
Maybe you'll even learn that the person you looked up to as a kid is just as flawed as you are. Bella was my idol growing up because she was unique; she stood out long before I had the confidence to do the same. Now that we're older and closer as friends, I'm able to see that she's got her imperfections, just like me. That doesn't make me think less of her, it makes me love her even more. I never want her to think that she has to be perfect, for me or for anyone else. We were never meant to be perfect. We were meant to succeed despite our imperfections.
The best friends you'll ever find are the ones who help you realize something within yourself. That even though you're imperfect, it's not a weakness, it's a strength. That the only way to truly be happy is to embrace the only "you" that you really can be.
So, to all the kids like me who have pondered what it'd be like to be "normal," I have a message. Normal does not make you great. It does not make you exceptional, unique, cool, or even good or likeable. It makes you boring, bland, and unoriginal. Even if it makes people accept you, it's not worth everything you lose. Dare to be the kid that stands out. The kid that people admire for their courage to break the mold. Take their breath away with how extraordinary you are. Set out every day to show how amazing you are, and never be ashamed of that.
Remember that the kids who try so hard to fit in will never succeed the way you can. They will always be afraid, and they will always be dull and unimaginative. They will never be you.
And there is nothing more raw, more original, more remarkable and phenomenal in the world than you. Never let anyone make you ashamed of that.