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Embrace The Strange

In Personal on October 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Some people find it hard to just let go. For myself, this is extremely true. I hold on to things people have said to me, I hold on to physical things that represent a certain time or generate a memory of where/how/when this item was attained, I carry over stress from one area of my life to the next, and it’s damn near impossible for me to just “cut loose.” I have always internalized anything negative that came my way (believe me: being aware of it, knowing it without a doubt, and actually being able to prevent yourself from doing it are three entirely different things – and I’m still currently flip-flopping between the first two). I think my intense anxiety over “cutting loose” stems from the fact that I endured my fair share of teasing growing up. I was the lanky, uncoordinated poor kid with no dad, bad hair, glasses, and braces. And even though my weight caught up with my height (and then some), I eventually learned the tricks to managing my unruly hair, I had my braces removed, and upgraded my frames that I now only have to wear occasionally, it’s like I forget sometimes. I will suddenly turn back into that little girl hiding in a bathroom stall wiping tears off her cheeks because someone who was supposed to be her friend had just purposefully embarrassed her in front of everyone in class. I sometimes catch myself feeling like I’m once again the wallpaper, watching all the pretty girls with their nice clothes and their boyfriends and their big group of friends. I still feel like that awkward outsider.

Don’t get me wrong, being the outsider isn’t a big deal. I am fully aware that I am different from most people and don’t fit in most groups. I’m still learning to deal with my awkwardness, but I’m getting better about it. At least I am able to laugh at my own awkward expense now, which is much better than an anxiety attack or an ugly-cry-face. I still sometimes get that old familiar pang accompanied by my snarky subconscious reminding me deep down that I don’t belong. But even this is getting less and less. I can honestly say that I haven’t had my own mind turn against me in a while, and I think I’m figuring out why.

For starters, I have an amazing mother. Of course we hit a rough patch in my teen years, but that’s inevitable. However, she has always been there for me, supportive of my decisions, and encouraging. She was constantly letting me know how important I was and telling me I was beautiful even when I knew that she was probably the only person that believed that. Because of those things, and because of her encouragement and her being okay with me not fitting in, I began to feel a little better about the fact that I was an outsider. For my mother, being out of the ordinary had been what she sought out in her younger years, purposefully making herself different from her peers so that she stood out and she was proud of this. If she was okay with it, then why was I so upset? Because she chose it, and I was forced into it by others. That’s my guess, anyways. But with her encouragement and undying support for me, I started learning to be okay with my form of out-of-the-ordinary, and the most amazing thing happened. I began to feel less the outsider and more like an insider. Not only was I feeling more comfortable with myself, my comfort allowed me to be more true to myself, and this made it very easy to weed those Negative Nancies right out of my circle.

Like I said, I still get that occasional pang, but it’s quite rare now. I really think it’s more out of the old habit than from me feeling those old feelings. Actually, I know it is, because the second factor to my transformation from the Crying Girl to the Okay Girl is my group of friends. I have never met a more interesting, random, weird, eclectic group of people in my entire life than those that I now call my friends. I am still an outsider, but that doesn’t feel so lonely when I am surrounded by a whole group of equally awkward, equally strange, and absolutely beautiful people.  I can honestly say that I’ve never in my life seen so many different people with such different personalities mesh so well, so it really leads me to believe that it’s the underlying current of uniqueness in each of us that we all find so magnetic to have been drawn together.  Each one of them has their own strength, their own weakness, and their own lowest or hardest moment in life that has shaped them or continues to shape them.  I find myself comparable to that, and to be comparable to anything or anyone is a big step in the right direction to letting go of all my baggage from my past.

Being teased and ostracized for a pre-teen, or a teen, male or female, can take a toll.  I’m sure I’m not the first and nowhere near the last to say that even well into adulthood, that negativity can have lingering effects.  But I may have just figured it out.  If it was preferable for my mother, then it sure as hell will be good for me, so my method of coping and overcoming this shadow that has been lurking since my middle school days is to just…embrace the strange.  I can’t change it, and I shouldn’t want to; therefore, I will just love it instead.

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