Why It's Time To Embrace Your Inner 'Weirdo'

Why It's Time To Embrace Your Inner 'Weirdo'

Reflections from a Middle School Eccentric
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I cannot recall a time in my life where I could be considered "normal." When I was in elementary school, my hobbies included locking myself in my room to read for hours on end, writing really descriptive diary entries, and being painfully bad at tag.

Really quite descriptive:

Instead of doing normal little kid things like playing dress-up or “house,” my friends and I formed a club called “the Piggy Pals” in which we gave ourselves animal personas and wrote really elaborate stories about the characters.

True story.

While my siblings learned to excel at various sports—my sister in dance and field hockey and my brother at basically everything else—I was struggling to finish my gym class’ mandatory mile in under 12 minutes. Instead, I was the champion of the classroom: I had stellar grades, I loved writing—I once wrote an entire book series about a dog detective named Sherlock Bones—and my favorite TV channels included Animal Planet and the History Channel.

Bottom line? I was not a normal child.

My…eccentricity…was of no importance in elementary school: no one really cared what you looked like or who your friends were or whether you wore Aéropostale polos to school.

Flash forward to middle school, and…well…those things mattered to most preteens. To set the stage, let me introduce my 12-year-old self: I wore blue wire-rimmed glasses several sizes too small for my face, I had the same haircut as Lord Farquaad from Shrek, and I had developed an affinity for playing the flute.

For context:

It is no surprise that I struggled to make new friends. Kids were nasty. I vividly remember getting teased relentlessly for countless reasons: my weight, my style (or lack thereof), my hobbies—anything that made me different from the carbon-copied, Hollister-wearing army of tweens that occupied my middle school.

It bothered me for a while, but I was lucky: I had a tight-knit group of friends that were just as ‘weird’ as I was. Eventually, I learned to ignore the snide remarks and thinly veiled insults and just be myself. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many kids. Oftentimes, the teasing alone is enough to push kids to abandon their uniqueness.

I think that’s incredibly sad.

Looking back, my childhood ‘weirdness’ is a huge part of who I am now. My love for reading, writing, and learning is what molded me into the excellent student I am now. My lack of interest in anything style or sports-related translated into me developing a kick-ass sense of humor (if I do say so myself). I am still friends with many of the same girls I’ve been friends with since elementary school; they make me genuinely happy.

Why is this relevant, you may ask?

I think it’s important for people at any age to remember their roots and do the things they truly love. Would 12-year-old you be happy with who you are now? Are there things you enjoy or pieces of yourself you’ve learned to ignore because you’re afraid that other people won’t think they’re "normal?"

I think it’s time to embrace the weirdness. Life is a lot more fun that way.

Cover Image Credit: Emma Killian

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One Of The Most Impressive Things A Human Being Can Do Is Finish An Entire Tube Of ChapStick

It is the only thing more impressive than the creation of ChapStick itself.

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Mankind's most impressive accomplishments include inventing the wheel, walking on the moon, and, of course, the creation of ChapStick. The air outside is beginning to get dry, and thus, chapped lips are coming, and once chapped lips season begins, millions of poor souls will begin to suffer from the tragedy that is chapped lips. Luckily, we have ChapStick, and Burt's Bees, Carmex, Blistex, and plenty of other lip balm brands as well.

There is nothing worse than feeling your lips begin to dry up, signaling that chapped lips are in your not too distant future. Actually, there are probably many things in life that are worse than this, but it's still pretty bad.

ChapStick is a savior for the chapped, a larger than life hero conveniently available in a small tube at most local stores. Thank goodness for ChapStick (and other brands of lip balm, I guess.) I truly believe that the invention of ChapStick is one of the most important, groundbreaking, and impressive feats that mankind has accomplished.

However, the only thing more important, groundbreaking, and impressive than the creation of ChapStick, is someone finishing an entire tube of it.

I'm not sure if it's even possible to do this, and I'm starting to think that it might not be. Before it can be done, the vast majority of people will either lose the tube, or no longer need it because their lips are no longer chapped. Then, by the time their lips become chapped once more, the tube will then be lost, never to be seen again.

It is a vicious cycle, one that prevents us all from ever finishing our ChapSticks, and probably also helps lip balm companies sell more products.

If anyone has actually used up an entire tube of it from beginning to end, I wonder what life is like for them now. Did they stumble upon some sort of hidden code allowing them to understand the true nature of life and the universe? Did they open a gateway to another dimension with different laws that govern time and space? I think there is a very good chance that one of these events occurs when one finishes an entire ChapStick tube.

It has to signal some sort of mind-bending event releasing the most well-kept secrets of the universe. Nothing else really makes any sense.

If you have finished an entire ChapStick tube, you have my deepest and utmost respect. You have shown the ultimate form of perseverance, prevailing despite the odds of the universe being completely against you. You have shown that you know how to follow through with something, no matter what. You can now live the rest of your life knowing that you have accomplished what most never will.

Be proud of yourself, and make sure to tell everyone you possibly can that you have finished an entire tube of ChapStick. Make sure it's the first thing you say when you meet someone new, tell random people in the street who you have never even met, and put it at the top of your resume when you apply for a job, because they will be sure to hire you on the spot once they learn of your wonderfully impressive feat.

As of now, my lips are beginning to feel chapped, and I have just applied ChapStick to them as a means of combating this dreadful ailment. As I stare at the tube in my hand, my determination to use the entire thing has greatly amplified, and I am more determined than ever to finish the thing and unlock the secrets of the universe. But, who am I kidding? I'll probably lose it before the tube is even halfway gone.

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Celebrating My Mom: Her Beauty and Strength

Here's to the most inspirational woman in my life.

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In observance of International Women's Day on March 8th, it is of paramount importance that we take a few moments to consciously recognize the women in our lives. We often call the women we adore by casual names like "Mom", "my sister", or "my girlfriend", and, usually, these nouns are intimate enough to replace their names---but not today. Today is for appreciating you, Melanie Daugherty, my mom---not as my mother, but as a human whom I hold with the highest regards.

It is easy for me to recall the innumerable times you've embraced me (even though I considered myself to be a disappointment), forced me to put my qualms into perspective, or insisted I put my aspirations into action (because "can't is too lazy to try") ; but, the magnitude of your accomplishments shouldn't always be measured by its impact on me, however, if it were to be, let it be the times you've inspired me.

Mom, I have always appreciated you, but I truly began to define you as my idol during my sophomore year of high school. During this time, I began experiencing shame in my identity. I was an athletic girl, but suffered from body dysmorphia, as well as a misunderstood and pessimistic perception of my inner thoughts. I became very introspective and was completely fixated on thoughts of worthlessness and lack of purpose. I assumed chronic fatigue was just a characteristic of being a teenager. In me, you recognized a past version of who you once were. I cried to you and you embraced me in your arms. My deteriorating state of mental health was not your burden, and you refused to let me define myself by diagnoses and prescriptions. Recognizing your success and triumph over anorexia and depression motivated me. I was so proud to be your daughter. Knowing that confidence and appreciation for the world was possible to achieve accelerated me into a period of self-reflection and determination. I wanted to trace your template of self-improvement with my footsteps and create a new image of myself---one that would reignite my childhood "spark".

You're not just my hero for saving me, but for giving me someone to admire. You live your life without limitations. Competing in the 140.6 mile Ironman triathlon is an accomplishment in itself, competing in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii is even more incredible, and completing eight of these triathlons is enough for most people to call you "crazy" rather than by your name. Your greatest demonstration of strength however, was not through athletic prowess, but through mental and emotional perseverance.

Losing your best friend to breast cancer was almost inconceivable because no one ever wants to acknowledge it as a possibility. What people also try to forget, is that it is just as possible for their lives to be taken from them. After learning to cope with your best friend's death, you were diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Watching you grow progressively weaker was enervating in itself. This wasn't a reality I was able to accept as truth, partially because you were my mom, but also because your strength was an aspect of you that I didn't think could ever be taken from you---and I was right.

Although your complexion grew pallid and your body could no longer sustain itself, your mindset remained the same. You would not accept a last breath, and you ensured that every breath you took reiterated that. You demonstrated to me that positivity is the panacea that combats a discouraged mind.

Mom, for you, I am proud. I am grateful to have lost sometimes, because without loss, I wouldn't have been able to realize my strength, and I wouldn't have realized that if you hadn't been my anchor.

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