All my life, I’ve been referred to as “weird.”
Weird for cutting my hair into a pixie style at the age of 9.
Weird for starting an all-girls band called “Super Troopers” in the 5th grade (I wrote all the song lyrics, and every melody was to that of a Spice Girls’ song).
Weird for the guys I like.
Weird for choosing theatre over sports.
Weird for being so expressive.
Weird for having a boisterous laugh.
Weird for feeling best in oversized t-shirts when my breasts are real and spectacular.
When you’re younger – like after training bras but before no bras (college) – all you want, all you know, is to do your absolute best to “fit in.” You have no idea who you “are,” so what the hell else are you expected to do? You’re certainly not going to mimic your parents style and personalities (at least, not yet), so really all you have to go off of are your peers. How they dress, how they act, their interests, their everything.
Going into freshman year of high school, my middle school was merged with another middle school, which meant new, cretinous 14-year-olds to study and pick up “cool” cues from. In a matter of months, I went from Emily to Emma and never looked back (yes, my real name is Emily. Let me know when you’ve calmed down from the shock). I tried my best to fit in. By way of the drill team, I found myself surrounded by a number of beloved peers – the girls who apparently set the example of what fitting in looked like and had been making out and letting teenage boys’ fingers poke and prod their genitalia before I had even properly french kissed.
It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school that I started to really feel out of my “weird.” I’ll never forget the first “weird” outfit I donned with clear-cut purpose and every glimmering hope it would be noticed and pointed out. I was making a statement – an announcement. “I think I’m a little ‘weird,’ y’all and I’d like you to take notice now.” It was black and blue plaid bootcut pants, Chucks, a pale pink t-shirt with my summer camp’s logo imprinted upon it, and a multi-color scarf haphazardly swung around my neck. It made no sense and I loved it. I looked at the girls around me – all matching, all carrying designer bags and wearing Juicy Couture tracksuits – and realized this isn’t me, it’s never going to be me, and I don’t think it would even want me if I wanted it.
There’s an old term: cookie cutter. It means to be and look the exact same as everyone else around you. Same style, same language, same life path, same behaviors and beliefs. A modern-day expression for “Keeping up with the Joneses.” That day – the day with the black and blue plaid pants – was the day I realized I’m a mahfuggin’ brownie, y’all.
And it’s not easy being “weird.” Well, let me take that back. It’s super easy for me because that’s just me being me. But, when put up against society’s pressures, that’s when the weird sometimes doesn’t play in my favor. Never once had I ever imagined the entirety of my young adulthood would be streamlined to perfection. In fact, I think I can say I’ve known from the moment I’ve been able to think thoughts that my path was going to be quite bumpy and full of potholes and construction.
I didn’t graduate college and move in with my boyfriend.
I didn’t graduate college, move in with my boyfriend, and get engaged.
I didn’t graduate college, move in with my boyfriend, get engaged, and have a wedding with an impossibly witty hashtag.
I didn’t graduate college, move in with my boyfriend, get engaged, get married, and announce my pregnancy a year or two later.
I didn’t graduate college, move in with my boyfriend, get engaged, get married, have a baby, and announce my second child a year or two after the first.
I didn’t graduate college, move in with my boyfriend, get engaged, get married, or have babies. I don’t have straight hair. I don’t have wavy hair that I straighten and curl. I don’t think Jennifer Aniston is pretty and never have – in fact, I think she’s plain as can be. I hated “The Notebook” – I thought the acting was horrible and couldn’t make it halfway through. I’ve never had a big group of girly girlfriends. My thighs have never not touched. I can count on one hand the times I have partook in a clubby club. I have more nightmareish dating stories than the fake ones in Cosmo and could entertain a group of married couples for days. And, I’m super hairy.
To some people’s standards, that is.
But I love it. I wouldn’t know how else to be, and the moments I have tried to mold myself into that cookie cutter shape, I’ve come out as the super deformed cookie that pretty much fell apart in the oven, but someone’s gonna eat anyway out of pity and hanger. I don’t fit into that mold and the mold doesn’t fit me.
And, sure, I’ve cried about it. Yes, I’ve been angry about it. “What’s wrong with me?” and “Why do these guys on Hinge never like me back? Is it because I’m not blonde?” are questions I’ve asked to the sky and to my friends and family multiple times. I’ve wished to be thinner, I’ve wished to have butt-long, perfectly wavy locks, I’ve wondered how it feels to have found “the one” so early on and not have to deal with half the shit I’ve had to deal with when it comes to penis. I’ve been envious and have beaten myself up – I’m only human.
But, when it comes down to it, the older I get, the more “weird” becomes a compliment. Oh, so you mean I’m not like every other person you’ve ever met? I surprise you? I confuse you? My choice to layer a long shirt over a long dress doesn’t make sense to you? The fact that I sing most phrases annoys you but also secretly entertains you? You worry about me because I don’t have a ring on my finger or a demure, reserved persona? GOOD. Let’s keep it that way, because it’s more interesting.
Any day of the week, I’d rather be the girl at the gym who breathes awkwardly loud while jogging and simultaneously almost drops her phone onto the treadmill while releasing a fart than the perfectly put together athlete with resting bitch face (because that really did happen Sunday. So.).
Keep calm and keep being weird as hell, y’all. But not like “Keep Austin Weird,” because that just means smells and weed and tie-dye to me. I mean like, accidentally farting on a treadmill and hating raw blueberries weird.