First of all, you’re awesome. Don’t ever believe anyone who tells you otherwise. Second of all, I am writing to you today to say I feel your pain. You’re not alone on this journey in life & knowing that can be a huge factor in realizing that being a misfit is actually not a bad lot in life. In fact the second reason I’m writing to you today is to tell you why I believe being a misfit can actually be one of the greatest things you can experience in life. But we’ll get to that later. To begin, let me explain why I feel I have the right to speak on these matters.
I’ve been weird practically since birth. My mom swears I said my first sentence at less than a year old (“It’s good, Mom!” while eating; so fitting that my first sentence would be about food. Ha!), causing her to nearly fall over in shock. Certainly I’ve been weird since at least pre-school. I remember very distinctly being the only child in my pre-school class who would sit down with a book during our free-play periods. It never much occurred to me at the time that this meant I was a bit “off.” I was so busy doing my own thing that I never really noticed. Then I went to kindergarten & discovered I was the only kid who hated nap time. While everyone else was blissfully asleep, I would lie awake bored & wondering how much longer this torture would last. I would also wear ridiculous brightly-colored headbands just about every single day. With my hair in a pony-tail. It never occurred to me that this wasn’t stylish or that no one else wore their hair this way. I just did it because I liked it.
Well, as we all know, kids can be pretty cruel. And my care-free “be weird & no one really cares” days didn’t last forever. Before long, the other kids figured out I was pretty weird. Certainly I had a few friends here & there; naturally they were the other weirdos & misfits of course. There’s nothing to bring people together like a feeling of mutual exclusion from your peers.
So to the other misfits, nerds, geeks, & weirdos out there today:
I know what it’s like to be the only kid in class who doesn’t know what “gay” means. Who answers the joke “Is it ‘I da hoe’ or ‘You da hoe’” with “Idaho” because I didn’t realize this was some stupid joke that had nothing to do with the name of a state.
I know what it’s like to be constantly out of the loop on popular culture & thus have very little to talk about with the majority of your classmates.
I know what it’s like to be picked last in gym class over & over again. And what it’s like to be laughed at because your athletic skills leave a lot to be desired.
I know what it’s like to hide your grades from your classmates because you know they’ll tease you for being a “smarty pants” or at the least they’ll try to make you feel guilty for “wrecking the curve.”
I know what it’s like to be excited for school to start because you love learning but at the same time to dread the social aspect of school because you have so much anxiety over whether your fellow nerds will be in any of your classes or, most important of all, if they’ll share your lunch period.
I know what it’s like to try really hard to fit in with the cool kids & to think they’ve finally more or less accepted you only to find out the whole time they thought you were just a pain in the butt.
I know what it’s like to never be sure if a compliment is really a compliment or if people are secretly making fun of you when you’re not looking or listening because the latter has happened enough times to make you paranoid.
On a more adult level, I know what it’s like to feel “old before your time.” To wonder when most of your cohorts will realize that getting drunk is only a minor milestone in life, not one to be revisited every single weekend. And then further to wonder if making such statements makes you incredibly boring & “old.”
Speaking of being old, I know what it’s like to be called “old at heart,” sometimes as a compliment & sometimes not.
And I still know what it’s like to be out of the loop about much of popular culture. Only this time I don’t give a crap. Because now I know that I’m not missing anything worth missing.
Now that I’ve reiterated all the reasons why being a misfit, nerd, geek, or weirdo sucks or at least can be difficult, let me explain why I think being different than the norm is actually AWESOME. Being a misfit from an early age taught me some very valuable lessons that I think everyone learns at some point in life but learning them at a young age can be even more beneficial.
Being weird taught me how to be happy on my own & to realize that being alone is ok sometimes.
Being weird taught me that having a few close friends is much more important than having a lot of acquaintances.
On a related note, being weird means it’s easier to know if people really like you. Because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t stick around . . . After all, there are a lot more normal people out there. So if you’re weird & someone keeps coming back to you (romantically or otherwise), there’s a reasonably good chance they’re actually serious about you.
Trust me when I say this one is still a big battle for me, but being weird has taught me not to care so much about what other people think about me. As Kacey Musgraves so wisely wrote: “You’re damned if you do & damned if you don’t/So you might as well just do whatever you want.” Truer words have never been spoken (or sung, in this case). Being weird has taught me that trying to please everyone is always a losing battle. And so I’m slowly learning to just live my life how I see fit, knowing that those who really matter will not forsake me.
Being weird has taught me that life is more fun “on the edge” so to speak. For example, being weird has encouraged me to try out different kinds of music that aren’t exactly mainstream. I’m now a huge fan of lots of European symphonic metal bands when just 10 years ago I didn’t even know such music existed. A lot of my favorite rock bands don’t even have a Wikipedia page or have one with only a few short paragraphs; point being, a lot of the best music out there these days is not what’s being played on the radio 24/7. Nowadays I’m the one introducing my friends & coworkers to new music. And being a weirdo, I still collect actual CDs & I’m very happy to lend them to my friends so they too can enjoy my favorite bands.
Being a misfit has given me a tremendous amount of self-confidence. It’s still a difficult battle some days but I wouldn’t be the nurse or the person I am today if I hadn’t been a bit of a misfit all these years. I wouldn’t have the confidence to deal with difficult patients, angry family members, & the life & death situations I’m presented on a frequent basis as a nurse. Being weird requires confidence because you’re going “against the grain.” At first you mightn’t realize it, as occurred with me as young child. But at some point you & those around you realize you’re a bit different, & when that happens it requires a lot of confidence to continue being your good old weird self because of all the negative experiences I’ve detailed above. This translates into a great deal of self-confidence as an adult which can push you to achieve a lot of things you might not otherwise have accomplished.
Being weird means that the older you get, the more your peers will recognize how awesome you are. For example, when I went to college I had no idea that I’d make as many friends as I did. I thought I was destined to always be a bit lonely. Much to my great surprise & relief, I found that college was like heaven for nerds. We might not have been the coolest kids on campus but we certainly weren’t teased anymore & on some level it was obvious that even the jocks & sorority girls (the stereotypical ones anyway) realized they really weren’t as cool as they thought they were & that we nerds were really the ones “running the show.”
Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned from being weird is that you should NEVER sacrifice who you are or what you believe (or don’t believe) for ANYONE. If people don’t like you as you are, they’ll never like you because anything else you try to become will be fake. And someone who is fake will always be discovered for what they really are. Furthermore, being weird has taught me that being respected is more important, far more important, than being liked. And that anyone who truly wants to be your friend (or romantic partner) WILL respect you first & foremost.
To end my treatise to all of us misfits, nerds, geeks, & weirdos, let me introduce you to Freak Like Me by Halestorm, one of my all-time favorite rock bands. If this isn’t an anthem for us, I don’t know what is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sXoA7B5yJo
To all of you freaks like me out there, keep being awesome, don’t let anyone get you down, & rock on with your bad selves.