Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Being Weird

When I was in fifth grade I had a sticker that said "WEIRD" on my desk.  Some of my classmates would point to it and say "You really are weird."  And I would always say "thank you" and smile proudly.  

It's a true story.  It's a true story that I tell my kids now to make them feel better on days when they are feeling a little weird or different or like they aren't like everyone else.  I go on and on about how being different is a gift and that being weird is a compliment.  "Being weird and different is wonderful," I tell them with the same proud smile I had a million years ago in Ms. Hunter's fifth grade class.  "It would be boring if we were all the same, wouldn't it?  Weird people make life so interesting and colorful."

But if I'm being really truthful, it can also be tough to be weird.  There were years when feeling like I wasn't fitting in with ANYONE felt simply awful.  I questioned myself and doubted and tried to be different.  It can be lonely being a little weird.

I was labeled "the creative one" by my parents but I think I could have been labeled the ADHD kid, possibly the Dyslexic kid, most definitely the daydreaming kid, an introvert, a stage-lover, a dancer, an oversensitive kid and probably a lot of other labels.  I was never tested for anything, but I struggled.  

It was easy for me to love being a little weird in elementary school, but as I got older it got harder.  School got harder and the social scene got more complicated. My home life was a mess which didn't help with my creative/weird/where do I fit in/why can't I get better grades/what will the world think of me confusion. My middle school and high school years were spent making it through not really excelling or figuring myself out.

In fact, it has been pretty recent that I proudly smile and wear the badge of weirdness with great honor again.  In my late 30s I started this blog and began being unafraid to express myself.  It was freeing. The more I wrote, the more authentic and alive I became.

Now I sort of feel like The Velveteen Rabbit, you know, because I'm old and shabby and getting real and now I'm becoming REAL--and whole and weird and okay with all of it.  

This whole acceptance of my weird, real self led to doors opening to creative opportunities that I might have been afraid of before.  Opportunities that I would have told myself were "too weird" or that didn't fit some idea of fitting in that I was holding onto from my stupid teens. 

Now at 40, I am loving my creative, weird, oversensitive, colorful, interesting self.  I mean most of the time.  There are still days when I wish that I was more of this and less of that.  But more often than not, I am enjoying myself and the possibilities I want to jump into and the places I want to go and the art I want to find in everything.
I found art in the woods the other day.

I am lucky to have friends that get me and will go on weird art finding field trips with me while our kids are in preschool.

Something I didn't expect however? How tough it is to be a parent to children that might be/feel a little weird.  It's a lot harder to watch your child's eyes fill with tears because they don't understand why they learn differently and think differently and feel more. I want to follow my child around and beat up anyone that says anything negative or judgey.  My promises of "you will make the world so much better" and "you are smart in a different way and different is good" aren't what my child wants to hear.  Nope, my child wants to fit in and be accepted and be "normal."  My heart aches knowing the struggle that is in store for him.  

And what if there isn't a name for what he has or what I have?  I mean I sort of wish for a diagnosis other than just quirky or creative or "not like everybody else."  We have just started the investigation into this for him and so far, no diagnosis. I don't want to make any of it go away for us because I truly believe in the magic of being weird and different and interesting. But I do want it to be easier for my child.  Maybe it will be because I will be paying attention and noticing when he is feeling overwhelmed or isolated because of his not-like-everybody-else-ness.  Or when reading is a challenge or the writing assignment is giving him anxiety.

I don't want him to just make it through and then wait until he is 40 to realize his gifts and his beauty and his weirdness.  I want him to appreciate it now.  I want everyone to appreciate it.  I want to scream to the world that different is good! being oversensitive isn't a bad thing! feeling is brave! vulnerability is powerful! not everyone learns the same way! be nice to all the weird people!  But that would be sort of weird right?

Who knows, you might see me on a street somewhere yelling this to the world or maybe on a stage somewhere.  Until then I will have my heart broken watching my sensitive kid get his heart broken and I will continue to love him and advocate for him and all of my children.  And I will keep on keeping on being weird and REAL and looking for new creative opportunities to jump into, fears to face, places to go and the art in all of it.
Art is everywhere.  And there's even art about pizza. I love it.


  1. I love this so much, Angela. I think you're doing everything right with your kids. Sharing our own experiences and being that soft place to land when their hearts are broken are exactly what we need to be for our kids. You are influencing your children in ways you don't even know, and they are soaking up every bit of the good you have to give them, I'm sure of it. xoxo

  2. I hate that it is hurting you, but having you as an advocate is going to be such a huge difference for him. Of course there will be hurtful moments, but you are providing such a comforting, loving, safe place surrounding him. (But yes, it's so hard to hear the hurtful things and want to make those things disappear.) xo

  3. This is an amazing piece. it's so hard watching our kids navigate the small slice of the "real" world the experience. I stress way too much over social situations and individual growth and the fear that they won't be themselves. It's hard.

  4. Loving someone for who they are, that is true love. I think you are your authentic self, and I think your children are too. You are a great Mom.