Today is the one-year anniversary of Peculiar Girl. When I started this blog I had no idea what to expect, I just wanted to write. I see too much sadness, selfishness, and hate where there should be happiness, compassion, and love, and I wanted to help change that. In the beginning Peculiar Girl had about six readers: my husband, my family, and a few friends. Today Peculiar Girl has 46 subscribers and 212 Facebook fans, all of whom inspire me to keep writing, even when I worry I don’t have anything interesting to say. Thank you, all of you, from the bottom of my heart. Your support means the world to me.
Today’s post is from the Peculiar Girl archives, post No. 1, originally written September 8, 2010.
I let go of the top bar and fell backward, my gymnastics teacher guiding my six-year-old body through the move. With my knees still hooked around the bottom bar, the momentum carried me down, around, and back up again. At the top of the circle I released my knees from the bar and landed on my feet, arms triumphantly raised to the sky. It’s called a penny drop, and I was one of only two girls in my class brave enough to try it.
Back then I was a fearless—a tiny spitfire with a pixie haircut and scabby knees. I climbed trees, learned to skateboard, and rode my bike downhill “no-handed” as fast as I could. I did what made me happy. And there was no one telling me I shouldn’t.
Just before my seventh birthday my family moved from the city to a small, rural town. I would start second grade at a new school. There were no gymnastics classes, no friends next door, and I sprained my ankle the first time I tried riding my bike on gravel—my wheels spun in the loose rock and I fell, catching my foot in the spokes.
There, everyone knew everyone else. Their families had lived there for generations, most of them farmers. They went to church. We didn’t. They did chores before school. I didn’t. How strange I must have seemed—with my unfamiliar last name and short haircut. A kid on the bus asked if I was a boy or a girl. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so fearless.
From the get-go I didn’t fit in. I was criticized, teased, and sometimes bullied for being “weird.” Most of it seemed to stem from my taste in clothes, my choice of friends, and that I sucked at dodge ball.
Ultimately, growing up a misfit was a positive experience for me. It made me a stronger, more empathetic person. I realized that happiness doesn’t come from the approval of others, and that just because something is popular doesn’t make it right. I also developed a thicker skin, which definitely helps in my career. When you’re a writer, EVERYONE has an opinion about your work. You learn to take it all in stride.
It takes patience and courage to live life on one’s own terms, but I believe it is the only path to true happiness. I started this blog to share my triumphs and challenges, and to hopefully inspire others to embrace what makes us different from one another.
Photo by Nono Fara on Flickr