Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rockin' to a different beat

When I was little, I think I may have stood out as a bit odd. I don’t know this for sure, but I think about how I perceive things now and what I recall about my perceptions then and I have a feeling I may have raised a few eyebrows. Not necessarily in a bad way, but I think I was pretty independent and I remember thinking the adults with various activities I was involved with were fairly irrelevant and I just did my own thing anyway. I always loved to somehow be distinct. Puh-lease do not lump me in as just another kid!!

At school, in Kindergarten, I recall wanting to be friends with everyone – even the kids that stuck out as being different. A little girl who wore a patch on her eye, another one who smelled bad b/c of an incontinence issue – I had no social clue that I wasn’t supposed to befriend these people. I stuck up for them when others would push them down. I later learned better. As I went through school, I quickly realized if you befriend the kids that others have decided should remain friendless, you too won’t have much going for you socially.

I eventually learned the system and worked to keep my mouth shut and cheer on the cool kids though I don’t know if I ever reached the status of cool for myself.

What is it that is inside a kid SO STRONG that they FIGHT to be different – to somehow stand out from the crowd, then what is it again, that this same child a few years later will then FIGHT to blend in. PUH-LEASE let me blend in!!!

I fought this all through school and even into adult-hood. I recall being with groups of young ladies who knew the hair to have, where to buy their jeans and all about Doc Martens. I don’t know what part of my genetic make-up made it so difficult for me to follow these conversations. They just did not come naturally.

Obviously now, many years later, I’m generally okay in my skin. The insecurities are not non-existent, but I realize the things that make me unique are not necessarily bad. I have also realized that all those people who seemed to have all their ducks lined in a certain direction that I didn’t quite understand – may also not have understood it all either. They are also unique. Some just manage to hide it better than others!!

Why do we want to hide our uniqueness? Why do we desperately want to blend? I guess for many it feels safe. I knew if I was on the side of the bigger, stronger person socially, I likely wouldn’t be on the other end – getting the brunt of their own insecurities needing to pick on someone else. That approach is not fool proof however; I was on that receiving end plenty!

I look at my own kids! They each have a fire burning so bright!! I WANT them to be unique and I want them to CELEBRATE that!!! I celebrate that WITH them! I hope they never give up sticking up for the underdog like I unfortunately did. But I also do understand the realities of life and know they may also end up playing both sides of that coin.

When I got engaged, 13 years ago, an uncle commented to me “Well, you always did march to the beat of your own drummer”. I didn’t realize getting engaged was so out there! I’m still amused by that comment b/c almost 13 years later; I have no complaints & no regrets. I still wonder why he thought it was so out there???

When I tell people I am interested in speaking up for those who have no voice, I get differing reactions. So many are positive!!! But so many are not – sticking up for the underdog is not generally the cool thing to do.

I have a feeling I’m marching to my own drummer again!! I’m actually pretty okay with that this time. But what I’m coming to notice is that the rhythm is actually pretty strong. I look around and see what others are doing, and I see so many admirable people ALSO fighting this same fight.

I don’t really feel like an odd kid anymore. And even if I did, does it really matter?

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