Am I normal? How many times has this thought crossed your mind? When I was a kid all I wanted to do was fit in. I always felt sort of…different. First of all, I was a young Jew in a town with very few. In my High School graduating class (back in 2002) there were probably 15 Jews total. It was a small, but mighty crew of competitive, ambitious, aggressive kids with one goal in mind; getting out.
Being the good Jew that I was, I went to Hebrew school and from 1993-2000 spent my summers in the Poconos experimenting with fashion, hair styles, friends, and boys. Most of my other friends spent their summers at the local day camps or working as lifeguards. I somehow felt I just knew more. Not that I was necessarily smarter, but just that I had seen things that made me want to explore further. My parents talked to me about politics and I never watched the Cartoon Network or played Little League. My Mom worked full-time and even though she made almost all of my swim meets she was never a “swim mom.”
At the time I wished my parent’s were friends with my friends parents and were part of the PTA and were “swim parents,” but now I could not be more thankful. Looking back, those parents were lunatics who pushed their kids far too hard. I swam competitively from ages 10 to 18 and none of those girls I swam with ended up in the Olympics. It was supposed to be fun. It wasn’t, but it was supposed to be.
I’m getting off topic, I know. My point is, my parents saw the importance of my experiencing the world outside our little town. They didn’t “fit in” either. For starters, my Dad was the best dressed person in a 20 mile radius. That’s one thing I’m sure of. I wish I had stopped struggling to blend into the crowd. I worried about being “cool” and hung out with people I really had nothing in common with except a desire to get drunk, I suppose.
I stayed out too late, didn’t work hard enough in school, and forgot who I was. I was consumed with being just one of the girls, instead of figuring out what really interested in me and going for it in a big way. I was so confused. I didn’t think it was “cool” to be in Honors classes, yet I knew I was smart enough. It was a very sad time spent in limbo and a place I hope to never inhabit again. It was like I wasn’t part of either group in a real way; the cool kids or the truly smart kids. I swam in both pools without ever getting my hair wet, so to speak.
Sometimes I feel that way now. Even now, in my adult life, I sometimes feel very different than my friends. I like different kinds of music and obsess over politics and my blogs. One of the things that blogging has brought to my attention is the innate competitive nature of the internet. When this was strictly a blog about weight I watched other bloggers lose a ton of weight, hold health related giveaways, and quit their day jobs to blog full-time. I felt like the slightly overweight loser all over again. It was a hard pill to swallow.
When I started my tumblr blog I became fascinated with all these super hipster, well-read people who wore thoughtful outfits everyday and went to the best restaurants New York had to offer every night. I started to feel inadequate all over again. Then, I decided that these people were opening my eyes to a whole new world. Since this realization I’ve followed people who inspire me in some way, are intriguing, or just plain hilarious. I don’t need to move downtown to be “cool.” I just need to be me.
By the way, this entire post was inspired by one of James Nord’s tweets. Sometimes genius stems from the most random of musings. He said:
I don’t understand people who want to fit in.
Suddenly a light bulb went off in my head. I just said SCREW IT. No one ever changed the world by fitting in.
So thank you, James. For looking so good in a suit and inadvertently freeing me this ridiculous notion of “normal” or “fitting in.”
It’s like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I highly recommend letting your freak flag fly today.