Photo by Danielle Levitt
When I was a child, I had a very hard time fitting into the roles that were expected of me. I was a chubby, awkward, shy little boy with a bowl cut and glasses. My favorite outfit to wear was a bright purple fleece sweatsuit, that I would often get too warm in, so I would roll up the legs into shorts, creating two little sweatpant-donuts at my knees. I had friends, and I wasn't exactly bullied, but I didn't fit in...by any means.
I would attempt to swing bats, and kick balls, all kinds of embarrassing things for an outwardly effeminate, purple-clad little boy to do. But what really made me happy in those days was sitting somewhere by myself with a heavy book on Greek mythology or the King Arthur legends.
Because I spent so much time by myself as a kid, I got to know who I really was, way earlier in life than most. By 9 years old, I accepted that sports and fighting and being rowdy and getting dirty just wasn't for me, and I was fine with that. While other boys were joining sports teams, I was the only boy in drama lessons...and dance class...and choir.
Though there were the occasional taunts and rhyming couplets, it was worth it to be so self-assured at an early age.
In short, there were aspects of being a loner that benefitted me, greatly.
When all the other kids from my elementary school went to the same middle school, I had no qualms saying "bye-bye" to a group of children who never really got me. Countering that mass exodus, I was one of only two from my school to attend the new arts-magnet middle school, which specialized in an artistically driven middle school education.
In this new setting, I didn't feel like an outcast any more. I knew who I was and I was waiting for the right friend group to come along. Eventually, I found them. A group of kids who all loved mythology and legends and all nicknamed themselves after characters in the King Arthur tales (uhh, DING DING DING DING!). They didn't even mind when I wanted my nickname to be "Queen Guinevere."
My years in middle school ended up being the most formidable of my whole childhood. I came out, I decided I wanted to be a musical theater actor, I did drag for the first time, and I was well-known at my school for being one of the oddest, yet most entertaining people there.
This is how I learned that maybe, being the odd one out just means you haven't found the right group to be accepted by.
It's not enough to be accepted just because you fit what's expected of you based on your age or gender. True acceptance starts with yourself, accepting that maybe you don't fit in everywhere, but where you do fit in, you fit like a glove.
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