How I know I was born to FREAK: A Guest Post by Joanna Weston
I’m lucky. My inner freak is quiet enough that I can generally pass as a “normal” person, as long as I don’t talk too much. But my perception of the world has always been a few degrees off from what everyone else sees, and that does not always make a person popular. Especially when I was a child! Back then, the other kids didn’t exactly ostracize me, but they didn’t know what to make of me, either. I wasn’t at the bottom of the social hierarchy, so much as outside of it altogether.
Why didn’t I fit in? Beats me. Maybe because I was so emotional – and more aware of the nuances of emotion than most kids my age. Maybe I because I read too much (which could partially explain the previous condition). Maybe because I was naturally introverted and intuitive, prone to pondering the nature of life, the universe, and everything. Maybe because I didn’t understand the rough and tumble way that kids have of relating to one another. Maybe because I believed in a world that was a hell of a lot more magical than the one they saw. But the fact is, I didn’t understand them, and they didn’t understand me. They ignored me, not out of malice, but because it was easier than any alternative.
Some things do not change as much between childhood and adulthood as we are led to believe, and this is one of them. Although the strict hierarchies of grade school are a thing of past (thank the gods!), I still seem to confuse a lot of people.
Of course, I eventually made friends and found people I could connect with, though for a long time I figured that they liked me despite my weirdness, not because of it. I still remember the first time I began to realize that wasn’t true! It was in college (my sophmore year, I believe) and I was describing a feeling I had, complete with sound effects and dramatic gestures. One of friends started laughing hysterically, and I felt like a fool. But when she stopped, she said something I’ve never forgotten: “Joanna, I love the way you see things! It’s so quirky!” And I knew from the way she said it that she really did mean it as a compliment. Weird.
It took me a long time, but eventually I learned a very important lesson (possibly the most important of my life!). If I don’t fit in with the people I’m around, I am not in the right place. There are countless social micro climates, and I do not have to fit into all of them. When I’m where I am meant to be, doing what I am meant to do, I find myself surrounded by people who really understand and appreciate me, and who I truly understand and appreciate in return.