Share the Weird
Updated: Sep 27, 2018
As a lonely youngest-child with imaginary friends and an invisible flavored air dispenser in my backyard, it’s no secret that I was a bit of a weirdo. That sentence could easily read: As a barely functioning semi-adult who counts syllables and makes her freshman Literature students chant along with her while reading Lord of the Flies, it’s no secret that I am a bit of a weirdo.
The point being, I’ve always been strange. Most of the time, I embrace the weird. Sometimes I even flaunt it. But this wasn’t always the case. Once, when I was around seven, I spent a good hour sobbing in my room over an upcoming field trip because My mom was a chaperone, which meant I had to choose my group members. But what if they don’t want to be in my group? What if I accidentally separate best friends? What if I put someone in my group and she ends up being mean? What if I say something stupid and nobody likes me, and then I’ll be miserable for the entire zoo trip? What if they think I’m a baby for having my mom come along?
“I just want to be popular,” I repeated through tears, using a word I barely understood, casting it as the Most Important Thing.
As it turned out, my teacher picked our groups and you got what you got. To this day, I have no idea who was in my group or if anything remotely dramatic went down at the zoo. But that question, that desire to be popular, was something that followed me through most of school. And since I didn’t have a pocket Glinda to give me a makeover, I feared I was doomed to be an outcast forever. Smart, but not like the kids in my Calculus class. Good at flute, but since when was that cool? Creative, but too terrified to show the weird to anyone.
That’s not to say I had no friends. I did—most of whom I still keep up with today. We found each other the way a group of strays comes together and sets up a little society in an alley. We became a family. And I would never devalue what we had or what we still have today.
But for so long, as I watched the golden gods who ruled my small town, I just wanted to be a part of them. I couldn’t even say why. As I got older, I realized most of that adoration was hollow. I learned everyone just wants to be loved for their weird, scared, raw selves, even the Populars.
In the past few months, I’ve spent more time getting involved in the online writing community. Ha, I say that like there aren’t a thousand, like this isn’t just a teeny branch of the great oak that is the literary world. But I still feel like I’m on the ground looking up, wishing with everything I have in me that I could climb that tree.
This time, it isn’t about being adored. It isn’t about wanting fans or followers. It’s about being mesmerized by the things my favorite writers create, and wishing I could make even a fraction of the beautiful art they do. It’s about a world that is hurting, a human population that burns for something real, something deep, something new. It’s knowing that every single one of those artists was (or is) just as terrified of the world seeing their raw, authentic, weird selves, and the love and admiration I have for them for having the courage to show us.
It’s knowing these are my people, and fearing I’ll never make it up there with them. I’m something of a control freak (a statement I’m sure surprises no one), and I keep thinking if I can change this thing in my manuscript or cut this many words or present myself in this way on social media that I’ll be found. That I’ll get to sit on a branch with my heroes, the artists who are moving and shaking this fragile world.
But there’s no magic formula. There’s no elevator, and there might not be a ladder. If I want to be in that tree, I have to climb. I just want a chance for my words to settle in the ears and hearts of people. So here it is, my weird, scared, raw self. I hope there’s a place somewhere in that great oak for my stories.