cheers to the weird ones

cheers to the weird ones

- in Handmade

I still remember where I was, when she said it to me.

I was sitting in my safe, {too small for personal growth} private school on the second floor in the left wing of our building. It was in our summer school Economics class. Our parents all paid too much for us to be there under the guise of spirituality. {The school in general, not the class.} And the teachers all knew it.

Looking back, I know said parents were holding their collective breath to college, the next logical step to ‘success’. This was the kind of class we were knocking out over the hot Alabama summer heat, instead of sunbathing in our Parisian’s bargain finds at the neighborhood pool. All so we didn’t have to deal with it Junior year alongside the dreaded Chemistry/Math class load combo.

We were basically lucky if the teacher fell asleep mid lecture. 

{Sorry not sorry for posting this, high school friends}

I’d just gotten my wisdom teeth out and had battled dry sockets over the short break, before we returned. That meant that my small frame now sported some serious hip bone protrusion, adding to my unfortunate appearance and serious forever lack of the coveted bewbage.

This, paired with my failure to make the cheerleading squad was, in my world, double occurrence of unfortunate events. I drove a bright green Neon {remember those?} with crank-able windows and belted out Alanis on my way to, and from class. I was a late bloomer with a penchant for what my {kinder} high school friends now refer to as, “humor that was ahead of my time.” But the truth of it was, all I wanted to do was fit in.

All I’d ever wanted to do, was fit in. 

So I don’t remember what I did to make her say it, but she said it. She {we’ll call her Suzy, to be safe} whirled around in her desk to face me, in said sleepy summer school class. She was a cloud of hair and ill-fated, inspired-by-Cher’s-Clueless-plaid, and she proclaimed: “You’re so weird.” 

Can we press pause for a second? 

This was circa 1996ish. And in the totem pole that was our tiny class’ unyeilding-once-you-passed-eighth-grade-heirarchy, let it be known that this was double harsh of Suzy.

We can all pretend like we didn’t care about our social standing in high school. The truth is, we were all very much aware of it. And we can all file this away under survival skills. 

I think that’s why it felt like such a blow because as far as totem poles are concerned, I knew where I stood. I certainly wasn’t dining at the top with the mean girls who’d peaked in the seventh grade {shocker-on both accounts} but I was somewhere in the middle. Probably slightly hovering a few levels above “band geek” and “chess club”. 

The fact that I’d joined Chess Club the year before because of a boy, is completely irrelevant. 

Suzy was basically a mathlete and could shut her coy face.

I felt personally victimized by Suzy. 

Spoiled, overly-sheltered private school kids circa 1996 have problems too, you guys. 

So, I did what any people-pleasing weirdo would do, and tapped her on the shoulder after class. This wasn’t the first time I’d heard it. And I was genuinely curious. “Can I ask,” I stumbled, “Why you called me weird?” 

“Weird isn’t necessarily bad,” she replied, and I got the feeling at the time, that Suzy was backpedaling.

But now, I know I was wrong. 

Our middle schooler is in seventh grade this year. SEVENTH. We’re now holding our collective breath to college, and braces are on the very near, as in next month, horizon. The girls in his grade have the all-coveted bewbage and wear makeup and kids try to be cool by dropping the f-bomb and juuling on the regular. {I had to google how to spell that.} Cue me, a-la the fetal position, rocking in the corner. We are at a really nice school that we’re not paying for, beyond our ridiculous property taxes and forced social cohesion.

Sometimes, I think we’re living in the wrong zip code. {Just smile and nod.} And I, on the daily, just wonder if I’m even doing it right. 

One day I opened my eyes, and I AM MY PARENTS. It’s funny, how suddenly that coin flips. 

Wasn’t I just driving a green neon and rocking out to Alanis?!

But back to the middle schooler. Because he came home the other day, telling me that someone called him weird at school. He laughed it off a little, but I could see it in his eyes. 

So I congratulated him. His dad and I, we gave him a high-five. 

“Good for you!” we exclaimed. “Why would you want to be ‘normal’?”

The truth is, that “weirdness” is something that pays off later in life. It separates you from the pack now, and later, but in the very best of ways.

It might not always be a comfortable thing, but I can assure you above anything else that I know in this world… it’s a very good thing.

So cheers to the weird ones.

The ones who don’t fit the status quo. The creatives and the artists and the writers and the thespians. The ones who will own their businesses one day. The ones who push the envelope. The ones who like Chemistry. The funny ones. The choir nerds and the band geeks. The ones who take a stand for themselves and others. The late bloomers. The drama club. The class clowns. The ones that are really good at math, and save lives because of it. 

And the ones who definitely won’t be peaking in middle school.

Congratulations on the very fact that you won’t be reliving your glory days over and over and over again. But reinventing yourselves, challenging yourselves, evolving and creating new versions of doing things as often as you can, instead.  

All I wanted to do was fit in, but if I’d just been able to see my future self, I would have known that ‘weird’ is the very best thing you can be. And if I could hop in a DeLorean to visit my hip bone-jutting Alanis-loving self, I’d take her by the shoulders, look her in the eyes, and tell her: “Just. You. Wait.”

Because the very best is yet to come. 

So thank you, Suzy. Wherever you are {probably the CEO of Google}. I’ll never forget that comment. You were pretty abnormal, yourself.

High fives all around. 

Cheers to the weird ones. May you forever be amazing.

And embrace every single moment of it. 

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