When I was in high school and the first half of college, I tried to fit myself into the cookie cutter ideals of the peroxide-blonde, Uggs and valley girl speech of the place I grew up. But you can’t really fit inside a cookie cutter when you’re following an entirely different recipe. And I was trying to be a cookie, when I was clearly a cupcake.
Anyway, leaving our culinary metaphors back in the kitchen, the point is that I made myself miserable convincing myself that being like everyone else was what I wanted. I starved myself, and wore clothes that were too short/too tight, rimmed my eyes in black eyeliner, and tried to affect a bubblier voice. My body became very sick and I dragged myself through the end of high school like a marionette with its strings all tangled, tripping over myself as I became bones and checked out mentally.
Luckily, I wound up at an arts college. Here, the weirder, the better. Our yearly events consisted of an annual drag queen’s ball and a zombie prom. There was the boy who would sit on rooftops to write his poetry, the one who biked around playing opera music from a radio in his basket, and not to forget the LARPers, who were actually a little too crazy, God bless them. They’d have NERF gun wars in the Humanities building every Monday night and if you happened to stroll by, they’d halt their game, yelling “CIVILIAN! CIVILIAN! CEASE FIRE!”.
No matter how weird you thought you were, Purchase would one-up you. So you had to embrace it. One of my roommates said she had clothes her mom said could only wear at school, because they were Purchase-normal, but not upper-middle-class Jersey-normal. Every boy you ran into was likely gay and even the straight ones looked like Brooklyn hipster poster-children. They wore plaid shirts and had fierce beards that would make a lumberjack cry in shame. The girls’ hair colors flaunted the colors of the rainbow like a set of My Little Ponies. Their sense of wacky, innovative fashion earned us a spot on the front page of the New York Times style section. Represent, my fellow weirdos. Represent.
You could always tell who the commuters were – especially the girls, because they still looked like Westchester preppy copy-and-pastes. Not all commuters, just the ones who were only at Purchase because it was the only public, non-community college in Westchester County. They tried to hang on to their sense of normal, rigid social rules as long as possible, but the happiest ones were the ones who gave in and embraced that they could be whoever they wanted to be at Purchase. No judgment.
So, since becoming an official type grown-up, I’ve taken Purchase’s life lessons with me. I’m not a party girl. I’m a read books, and go out to movies that make you think, and try interesting cuisines, and go on nature walks, and plan on traveling the whole world over, type of person. I’m a geek. I think dying pink streaks in your hair, learning Swahili, and living on a vegan commune is a perfectly acceptable way to live your life. You do you.
Now I’ll just ramble on to anyone about the original 150 Pokemon, or my prideful defense of the Hufflepuff house, or how we really need to make the Canterbury Tales a necessary read for students. I don’t keep that stuff under lock-and-key anymore.
I recently started a job in an industry where I thought everyone I worked with would be equally as dorky as me.
Nope. I’m the biggest nerd there. And you know what? I rock it. Because life is more fun when you stop worrying about what you look like to other people and actually just enjoy yourself – all your quirks and eccentricities. There’s billions of people on the planet. How boring would it be if we all acted exactly the same? There’s no one right way to live your life.
One thing I’ve done to make my life more fun is I’ve switched out all of my contacts with pictures of the pokemon I feel best represents them. And it’s awesome to get messages from Pikachu, Jigglypuff, and Snorlax. Another thing? I changed my work wallpapers to these awesome pictures of turtles eating strawberries.
So don’t let fear of looking normal hold you back. Normal is boring. Be marvelous, be brilliant, be fantastically weird instead.
Love you little weirdos always,