On being Different

As a kid, I always marched to a Different drummer, as they say.

As I moved around a lot I have been both popular, unpopular and everything in-between, but no matter what my social standing was, I was always perceived as Different.

I’ve always looked fairly normal – in fact, I always worked very hard to dress in a way so as I don’t stand out too much (I still do this, actually). When I would move to a new town, either I would blend right in so no one would notice me (which was comfortable), or I would make friends with normal kids who later found out I wasn’t so normal (which was uncomfortable). But when I opened my mouth I always outed myself as Different.

I read Different books. I listened to Different music. I watched Different movies and shows on TV. I talked Differently than most of my friends. Both the things I said and the way I said them were Different. Often I talked about whatever comes to my head in a seemingly unbroken but completely random train of thought. In high school, I often said something and my friends would just stare at me confused, wryly smile and finally say, “Kristina, you’re wierd.”

And I guess I still am.

Lucky for me I was never picked on like so many poor souls. Although I like most high schoolers did not make it to graduation without enduring my share of verbal torture, I never had to put up with the physical bullying or emotional abuse I saw in other classmates. I worked hard to try to blend in as much as I could, and for the most part I succeeded.  I had friends.  My friends were either Different too or they saw me as a curiosity piece and kept me around.  I tried not too be too weird.

But now I try and embrace Me. I do actually like the person I am, even if I am still weird. It at times hard being different, although now that I am grown up it is nice being different with a lower case “d”. It is also wonderful to be unique. Now that I am more comfortable with my Self, I just shrug at the judgments that still occasionally come, although they are slyer; not so in my face. I enjoy my mind as a wonderful playground in which to hang out. But it has taken me thirty plus years to get here.

I have a feeling that Connor will also have to make this journey.

Many moms of preschoolers I know are signing their boys up for soccer this summer. I won’t be one of these moms.  Connor has always been more interested in art. In fact, he is often the only boy at the art table during independent play time at preschool. And at home he is always wanting to do “arts and crafts”; play-doh, cutting, pasting, paining, coloring. He enjoys roughhousing with the boys, but he is just more at peace at the art table. He’s just – Different.

When Connor gets in a group setting with other boys, he doesn’t know exactly how to play or what to do. He gets so excited just to be there that sometimes he gets too loud, too energetic, too physical even.  I watch and wince and remember what it was like to be that kid – the kid that said things that were strange and did things that were weird.

Connor also still has some irrational fears that most boys his age seem to be growing out of. He hates getting his face wet or his clothes wet. If he gets two drops of water on his pants, he’ll throw a tantrum and want to change them.  I remember as a young child having to get my hair washed in the kitchen sink until I was in Kindergarten because I was so afraid of water on my face.

Connor is very emotional – much more so than most boys. I think that some of this is because I’ve encouraged him to be, but I truly believe that he has been this way since his first colicky days. He shares his feelings purely – anger, happiness, jealousy, peace, sadness, love, fear. I experience feelings strongly too, and had to learn to bury them so as not to appear too strange as a kid. It is only as an adult that I’m trying to let myself feel purely again.

I hope he doesn’t have to bury his feelings, although I expect as a male, he will feel the pressure to do so more than most. He is in for a rocky journey, I’m afraid. I hope he will be able to turn to me in the middle of the storm of his adolescence and find comfort in someone who has been through it. Someone who loves him.

And loves him just as he is.  Because she has learned to love herself.


4 Responses to “On being Different”

  1. 1 Edgy Mama May 22, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    Weird is good, babe! Particularly for bloggas!

  2. 2 whit May 22, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Different gets a bad rap. Gotta embrace the you!

  3. 3 karen May 24, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    my oldest boy and your Connor could bond on this issue, except that for him it’s music instead of sports, he is much older and still very emotionally, less afraid of things, but not un-afraid either (won’t just jump in the pool – at age 8). You are a great mom to support him being himself. It is rocky though, I know.

  4. 4 John Goes May 31, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    “anger, happiness, jealousy, peace, sadness, love, fear”

    If I may offer unsolicited advice:

    anger: sign him up for karate/boxing/judo lessons
    happiness: teach him how to pick up girls with class
    jealousy: don’t let him watch tv and he’ll be jealous of his friends (but in the long run he’ll have a brain that still works.
    peace: tell him about war
    sadness: buy him paper and a pencil, or canvas and paints
    love: see ‘happiness’
    fear: out of the blue just remind him that our hearts only beat a certain amount of times. or you can be much kinder and take him to an amusement park or scare the crap out of him.

    This might help you share your emotions for some time.

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