For the majority of my adolescent life, I have stuck to what others perceive as ordinary, even if it meant hiding my true passions. In elementary school I would play kickball at recess, eat peanut butter and jelly, and steer clear of the “weird” kids. In middle school I would wear clothes only from Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, or American Eagle, I would make fun of teachers, and I would complain about homework. Even in high school, and into college, I would dumb myself down to my friends, pay more attention to TV than books, do everything I could to disobey my parents, and play down my dreams as if they didn’t exist. I did all these things to seem normal, to fit in, and to make friends.
I don’t view any of these things as bad. I believe everyone goes through life wanting to fit in and wanting to have friends who seem “cool.” However, looking back I am jealous of those kids who stuck true to who they really were, and I wish I did the same.
When I was younger I loved to read, I loved to write, I loved to pretend my life was a storybook, and I loved to talk for hours and hours presenting my life as a story. I was quirky, outgoing, and, in my head, funny. Unfortunately when you are trying to “fit in” those things are the complete opposite of cool. Even my own brothers were fed up with my endless stories and chattiness. Eventually I learned that if I wanted the most friends, I needed to set aside my desire to read, write, and talk. Instead I embraced everything I saw my peers doing and learned to adopt their cool behaviors.
Now, at 21 years old, I think I am officially done with that. Now, I say “think” because I am still young and being yourself can be utterly terrifying. Yet, at this point in my life I believe I have made true friends who understand my weirdness and love me for it. For example, this summer I spent the majority of my time reading and writing. I didn’t go out to bars every night, even though I am 21. I didn’t hang out with my friends every single day, even though I really had nothing else to do. And I didn’t sleep in, even though I didn’t have to be anywhere at any certain time. Instead I read 25 books, often late into the night. I woke up early every morning so I could be awake during the quietist hours of the day, and I worked. A lot. But here I am. My friends are still my friends and we still hang out all the time. Now, they just know when I want to read I am going to read. They embrace my quirkiness and my random thoughts. Most importantly, they don’t make fun of me because it is who I am.
At first all of my changes troubled me. I thought to myself, “Why have I changed? What made me become so weird?” But thinking about it now, I realized that I have actually always been this way. My mom will tell me over and over again, “I always knew you would be a writer. When you were younger you would write stories all the time. I wish I kept those little books.” Well mom, looks like I have come full circle. I am simply not ordinary, and it is OKAY. As Libba Bray writes, “Ordinary is for suckers.” She’s right. It is.
I believe sticking to ordinary hinders a lot of personal development. Sticking to ordinary leads us to a path of ordinary; when instead, we should be striving to live extraordinary lives! If we do what everyone else does and refuse to follow our passions simply for the sake of acceptance, we fall into a routine that is not our own. In return, we are stuck with futures we really don’t want.
My favorite literary character of all time is Hermione Granger (yes, a Harry Potter reference). She is not afraid to be her smart, witty, nerdy, weird self. She sticks to who she is, bushy hair and all, and she refuses to let others make her feel lesser because she is intelligent. She doesn’t care if others call her a know-it-all, she does everything in her power to learn as much as she can, and owns her intelligence. I wish more girls were like her. Heck, I wish I were like her.
Happiness does not come from being ordinary, at least not for me. I find my happiness in reading. I find my happiness in writing. I find my happiness in spending more money on books than I do on food (this is not an exaggeration..). I find my happiness in being my quirky self and making myself laugh. I find my happiness in waking up at the crack of dawn, drinking coffee, watching the news, and reading a good book.
My happiness is not the same as my roommates’ happiness, and that is okay too. If we all had the same passions the world would be so boring. Therefore, I am dedicating the rest of my life to embracing my weirdness, not running away or hiding it. I am going to read when I want to read, I am going to write when I want to write, and I am going to live the way I want to live. If that means a few people think I am weird along the way, then fine. Call me weird. I don’t care.
At the end of my life, I want to be able to say I followed my passions and they led me to my career and a life full of joy. I want to be able to say I lived every day to the fullest and didn’t care about what other people thought. Mostly, I want to be able to say I encouraged others to do the same and show that weird is okay, weird is great, weird works.