I was voted class clown in middle school, which came as no surprise to me– because I was friggin’ hilarious. I am not trying to brag here; it’s just a fact. I was regularly making inappropriate jokes in the middle of tests, laughing so hard I snorted, and doing impressions of Michael Jackson in the cafeteria line. The reason I had such a great sense of humor was a little darker than most would expect however. I was painfully insecure and had incredibly low self-esteem. I used humor as a defense mechanism, a way to keep people at arm’s length, meanwhile keeping the real me hidden. I did this for so long, that it became my personality.
The thought of being rejected was more terrifying to me than being locked in a cage with a lion. Therefore, I made fun of myself first, before anyone else had the chance. This was my way of avoiding embarrassment.
People would realize I was already aware that I was “fat” and “loud” and “awkward”, so any jabs they may have attempted to throw would be futile – because I had already beaten them to it.
The problem I faced my entire life, was that no one wanted to date the funny girl. They wanted the bland, entitled, popular girl. The girl whose hair was constantly blowing in the wind when she walked as if she had an invisible fan inches away from her face, not the girl shoving carrot sticks in her nose and imitating a walrus.
As I got older, I began to grow out of the awkward “thick glasses and knee-high socks” stage. I lost the weight and became somewhat attractive, I even started cheerleading and was promoted to captain. The trouble was, although on the outside I appeared to be a gorgeous sex kitten, on the inside I still had that goofball mentality, I didn’t know how to be normal, and I certainly didn’t know the first thing about being sexy. I would practice flirty faces in the mirror and it was like watching a horror movie. My eye would twitch and my mouth would curl on one side like I was having a mini-stroke.
One day I was conversing with a handsome football player about our principal, and mid-sentence my face automatically twisted into a goofy, cross eyed expression as I imitated him. It happened so fast and so naturally that by the time I realized how hideous my face must have looked, it was too late. He smiled saying he was late for class then swiveled on his heels and rushed down the hall, periodically peering over his shoulder to ensure I wasn’t chasing him wide-eyed with a knife.
I gave acting “normal” an honest effort. I bit my tongue instead of blurting “that’s what she said”, I spoke quietly and smiled sweetly when I really wanted to burp and do an animal noise, and I refrained from random outbursts of dance in public places…
It was exhausting trying to be something I wasn’t for the sake of being liked.
Once I hit adulthood and found myself doing the Macarena in the middle of a grocery store to make my niece laugh, I knew right then and there that this was me, and I would most likely be this way until I die, (as I know for a fact that I will be doing wheelies in my wheelchair at the nursing home and flashing the cars passing by out the window of my room).
I began embracing my unique personality. I didn’t want to be the same as every other robot barbie. Being perfect and gorgeous was not at the top of my priority list – enjoying life and having fun seemed more important.
Once I let go of the idea that I had to act a certain way to “fit in”, a great burden was lifted.
I realized that when I was true to myself, I eliminated the people who were on a different wavelength than I was, in turn making room for those who accepted and loved me for me. I ended up meeting someone who loved my craziness enough to put a ring on it, and we now have 3 little crazies of our own. They wear mismatched socks and sing at the top of their lungs in front of strangers, and I couldn’t be more proud.
Life is way too short to try and be something I’m not. It’s also exhausting to attempt to shape and mold myself to fit into the box that society has insisted we all fit in. I am too big and too wonderful for that box, I love who I am today. Making those around me laugh and enjoy being in my presence is much more rewarding than being respected and liked by people who don’t matter.
I refuse to dim my light, just because others can’t handle the brightness.