I’m a bit odd. I don’t quite fit in….and that’s ok. I don’t really mind!
It took a long time for me to become comfortable with my little bit of weird, but now I try to embrace it and I will encourage Harriet to do the same.
Last week I found myself buying matching dresses for Harriet and I. As I did, I heard a voice in my head say ‘Hang on….is this a cool thing to do?’ I faltered momentarily, thinking how this would look to ‘other people’ before remembering I’ve never been cool my entire life, so I shouldn’t start worrying about it now.
Harriet’s still at that wonderful age where she does what she wants, wears what she wants and says what she wants. I am very aware that this is fast approaching its demise. As she grows up she’ll be surrounded by peer pressure, media and all sorts of lifestyle bullshit that shouldn’t (and doesn’t) really matter but somehow in everyone’s mind does.
I am going to try my very best to make sure she is completely comfortable with who she is. She is a little firecracker with plenty of weird and I’d love to see her grow up with that strong inside her. She’ll have to grow a hard shell though and I’ll help her by letting her know how fabulous she is every day.
For years I was acutely aware I didn’t quite fit in. Don’t get me wrong I had good friends, but I mostly went round feeling a little bit awkward. I was the girl that bought a bunch of daffodils to school, who wore pink gingham well into her late teens and who once got the piss taken out of her mercilessly because she was wearing jazz shoes in school (I was in a dance lesson for God’s sake).
At my freestyle dance class I really stood out as the weird kid. They were all uber trendy with their eyeliner, perms and neon cycling shorts. I was the ballroom dancing geek (because this was before the ‘Strictly’ era) who ‘couldn’t even go into a backwards crab’ (it mattered for some reason). I remember them having a summer fancy dress thing and everyone came as a slutty (insert noble profession here), I went as a non slutty Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. That kind of summed my time up there really.
Even in my adult life I’ve always worried about what people would think of me, but I’ve never quite worried enough to change. I can honestly say I don’t bow to peer pressure and I don’t follow the crowd, but this still doesn’t sit easily with me. I want to be invited on the nights out I wouldn’t really want to go to. I want to join in the dreary conversation about something crap on TV I didn’t even watch. I want to belong, even though I don’t belong.
After years of worrying that I don’t act the same or look the same as everyone else, I started to realise this is a good thing. The friends you do make are genuine as they like you just as you are no pretending involved.
These days I may call you up to ask what you’re wearing, because old habits die hard, but really I won’t give a shit that I don’t look the same as you.
I’m going to wear my cat ear headband or fancy buckle shoes. It’s not because I want to say ‘Hey look at me!’ it’s simply because it’s what I like. I might not quite know what to say when invited to a girly night because I can’t really keep up with all that girly crap that comes with it, but I can probably interject with an inappropriate comment every now and then.
My conscience often likes to remind me that I’m probably making a fool of myself. My brain still has the teenage angst of people looking at me. I need to throw myself into things as whole heartedly as I can and break through the self-conscious barrier that has built up over so many years.
The main reason I’m trying to be more comfortable with who I am is so I can be a great example to Harry. I can show her you can remain weird throughout your teens, through plenty of workplaces and social situations and people will like you because of it not in spite of it and you’ll get a good collection of fellow wierdos to call your own too.
Who wants to be like everyone else anyway.