The Outlier: The Strange, Yet Proud, Woman I’ve Grown to Be

via Daily Prompt: Outlier

Ever since I was a child, I guess you could say I’ve been a bit of an outlier. I’ve never really gone with the crowd, I’ve always sort of just done my own thing. I remember constantly being told by my classmates that I was “weird,” but never understanding what they meant by that. Now that I am older and wiser, I understand that they viewed me as someone who goes against the grain–not a trendsetter, but rather, a shy, quiet girl with strange interests. And today, I am proud to admit that they were right. Yes, I am weird, and no, I’m not ashamed of that. After all, if we were all the same, life would be pretty dull–the world would be a pretty boring place.

I suppose my weirdness started when I was in elementary school. I loved horses, and I would talk about them nonstop. From a young age, I researched all kinds of horse breeds and sought to learn more about them, and though I never had a horse of my own, I fell madly and deeply in love with these majestic creatures. I even started “club unicorn” when I was in second or third grade and they asked us to make “clubs” in class (in hindsight, I don’t know why the teacher thought this was a good idea, as it ultimately just caused more division between the popular and not-so-popular kids).

I never talked much in school, even through high school, except when in conversation with my closest friends. But they found that when they got me talking about something that I was passionate about, namely horses, I wouldn’t shut up. That’s actually how my best friend and I became best friends. We met in our freshman year of high school. We sat next to each other, but didn’t really make conversation. She tried to get me to talk, and one day noticed a spiral notebook I had with a horse on the front of it. She asked me if I liked horses, and apparently, the rest was history. I wouldn’t shut up, and a great, rock-solid friendship was born that is still strong today. I’m glad it happened this way. Frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Those aren’t the only weird quirks about me. Growing up, I wore pretty mismatched clothing. In fact, one of my outfits of choice was a pair of camouflage sweatpants, coupled with whatever shirt or hoodie I could find. I didn’t care if my outfit matched, so I would often go to school in some pretty interesting looking outfits. Ironically, I look back on pictures from middle-school and high-school years and laugh out loud at myself, wondering, “Oh my gosh, why didn’t anyone ever tell me those pants looked horrendous on me, or that I wore mismatched clothes?” Of course, back then, even if they had told me, I probably wouldn’t have cared, and would have just kept doing it. Honestly, I think the mismatched clothing came as a sort of rebellion against the rules of the middle school I had attended. While we didn’t wear uniforms, we couldn’t wear anything that had words, pictures, or logos of any sort on it, unless it was the school’s logo. All of our clothing had to be striped or solid colors. Our shirts also had to be tucked in at all times, even if they looked ridiculous. I remember once getting in trouble for having a two-piece dress (skirt and top that were separated), and not having the top tucked into the skirt. I told the principal it was a dress, but he didn’t care, and made me tuck it in anyway. I liked many of the things we did at that school, but I hated the dress code, and I remember that when my mom took me school shopping upon entering my freshman year of high school, I asked for everything I could with cute pictures, logos, and words on it, as I was so happy to finally be able to wear whatever I wanted. Did this result in some odd outfits at times? Maybe so. But I didn’t care, I was happy.

I have to laugh at myself now, because I remember walking around high school and seeing kids dressed up in cosplay outfits, and thinking how stupid that was. I also remember hearing about anime, but never watching it for myself, and thinking that it, too, was stupid, if it caused my fellow classmates to cosplay and LARP (Live-Action Role Play) every day at school. I remember wanting no part of that. Then, when I started dating the man who has since become my husband, we started watching anime together. He already liked anime, and he got me interested in it, too. I tried finding a few on my own, and found it hard to engage in the story line, and I was bored within the first five minutes of the show. That’s when he recommended Clannad and Clannad: After Story to me. That is by far the best anime love story of all time. I still bawl like a baby every time I watch it, yet it is absolutely so poignant that I had to purchase the whole series on Blu-Ray. I occasionally binge-watch it, and bawl when I do, but it’s worth every minute. It’s that good. As my husband and I usually say whenever we’re talking about sad or moving animes or movies we’ve watched, “the feels on the bus go round and round” and “the feels in the sky keep on turning.” 🙂 Now, I watch anime all the time. Some of my favorites include Clannad, Clannad: After Story, Sword Art Online, ItaKiss, Kobato, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Little Busters, Charlotte, Rewrite, Kanon, and more. I also now cosplay, and in fact am planning on going as the Cheshire Cat from the original Alice in Wonderland this year. I’m so excited for it and can’t wait! Yes, I know I’m in my twenties, and that cosplay may be seen as weird, but that’s why I’m an outlier! I know I’m weird, and I don’t care! I just embrace it! It’s fun!

Probably another thing that makes me an outlier: I don’t easily get jokes. I never have. All of the popular kids in school used to make jokes, and I never got them. Which only served to make the kids think that I was even stranger or even more of an outcast than they originally thought. But I didn’t really care, because there were often glorious moments when a friend of mine or my youth leader and I would have something amazing and funny happen, and it would become our inside joke. And when that happened, it was simply marvelous! Even now, it takes me a little to understand some of the jokes my coworkers make. They’ll say something, and I won’t get it, and then about fifteen minutes later, I’ll randomly start laughing, because I finally got the joke. And then they all give me strange looks because I just got it, but I don’t care. It’s all in good fun.

Honestly, probably the biggest thing that I’ve been seen as weird for, is also the thing that I am most proud of. I am a Christian. I have been ever since I was a child, as I was born and raised in a Christian home. Jesus has been very much a part of my life from the moment that I was born, though I didn’t know him personally until 2013, but that’s another story for another time. I’d walk around school talking about Jesus and even reading my bible, mostly from 6th grade all the way through high school. If there were any Christian clubs or organizations that started in my school, I was always a part of them. I participated in See You At the Pole every year, and was unashamed. I miss that event, I wish that there was still a way to do it as an adult, but I celebrate the love of Christ in other ways now. People often called me a “Jesus Freak” or a “bible thumper,” but I didn’t care. To me, it was never about being popular. It was just about being kind and showing others the truth. I’ve never been ashamed to declare my love for Jesus, his love for the world, and the truth and grace that he proclaims for all of us. Even now, I am still a dedicated Christian, and preach the word to others every chance I get. It’s just who I am. He never abandoned me, but rather, he saved and blessed me in every way, so I will never abandon him. In him I live, and move, and have my being. Amen!

Finally, the thing right now that probably makes me the quirkiest is that I am perceived as a crazy cat lady. I talk to my cat, I go on and on about my cat, because she is like a child to me. She is very sweet (most of the time) and I absolutely love her to pieces. My friends and coworkers call me a crazy cat lady, and maybe I am, who knows? All I know is I love my cat, and I am not ashamed! Of course, the other thing that makes me strange is that I communicate significantly better in writing than I do in verbal communication. I often get tongue-tied at work when trying to tell my coworkers a funny story. Just yesterday, I said that someone put both titles on the same stock number, when I was trying to say that they put the same stock number on both titles. It confused my coworkers, so I had to clarify. Here’s an illustration of how written versus oral communication works for me:

written-vs-verbal-communication
Classic me, always ending a presentation with “so, yeah….”

In conclusion, I am socially awkward, I have weird interests, am obsessed with animals, I enjoy anime and cosplay, and I am religious, and that makes me an outlier in every sense of the word. However, I am completely okay with that, because at the end of the day, you have to know who you are and be comfortable in your own skin before you can even begin to relate to others. And I don’t necessarily think being weird is a bad thing, anyway. In my case, I have met others who have similar interests and passions, and thus, have forged good friendships. Perhaps the same can be true in your case, as well.

 

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