When I was 10 years old, I ran away from home. It wasn’t the first time, but it was my first attempt at an out of state run. I was incredibly brave and optimistic, because I was only 10 years old. I could do anything, be anything, go anywhere! I jammed as much clothing, books and snacks (and of course my “Hello Kitty,” mini-colored pencil set and journal) into my backpack, hopped on my bike and headed West. I was going to Utah. I was going to see Donny Osmond . They called it Puppy Love, they did NOT know, and I was grounded for two weeks because I missed my YMCA Indian Princesses meeting.
As a little girl, I was always running. RUNNING like the female Forrest Gump, not always seeing the big picture, but very focused on the details. Much like this blog, http://blog.pigtailpals.com/2011/08/waking-up-full-of-awesome, I always woke up full of awesome. I woke up full of awesome until about 7th grade, then I woke up full of frustration and disappointment in myself. You see, I was always the one who couldn’t sit still or said an odd thing that made people laugh and roll their eyes. “Oh, that’s just Nicole. She is quite a (insert any number of adjectives indicating mentally unbalanced, bizarre, demented, unusual, unpredictable, oddball) little thing.” I stopped seeing the details and looked at the big picture. I wasn’t awesome anymore. I was weird.
Ouch. And so I began to replace my awesome with average and conformed as best as I could. I used my bravery and optimism, knowing that I had to succeed. I tried to blend in by wearing the trendy clothes, listening to the popular music and feigning interest in the things and people that I was expected to be interested in. Sometimes, my awesome would rear its dementedly different head, and I’d hear the words I had come to dread, “Oh, that’s just Nicole. She is (insert adjective as directed in above paragraph).” It was exhausting trying not to be “a character,” or “a piece of work.” I hid in my room after various acceptable and conformist activities such as student council, dating football players, cheerleading and shopping, and chain smoked cigarettes and pot while listening to “The Final Cut,” instead of the mix tapes with Run-DMC, REM, Survivor and Talking Heads.
I don’t think I’m unique in having experienced feelings of being different or misunderstood. It’s just that there are indeed just some people in the world who are in fact, characters. I’d like to say that I’ve become O.K. with being one of those people, but I’m not. Being a character is also exhausting and sometimes humiliating to my friends and family. Even those closest to me still identify my behaviors, tastes, clothing and expressions as odd and most recently “weird.” I struggle with being me, because who I am and how I express that has not been labeled “awesome,” as it was when I was a little girl.
“Why is your friend so weird, Mom? “ asked the daughter of a good friend. This friend posted it on my Facebook wall, reinforcing the idea that just because I’m not afraid to love what I love and express this love, I am “weird.” Another favorite is, “I have that song – Crazy Train- as the ring tone on my cell for when you call.” Gee, how original, you and 10 other people. I personally think it’s crazier to fearfully conform, but I also understand what it’s like to be afraid of things that I don’t understand.
I think this is changing for the lucky girls of today. They are growing up experiencing constant reinforcement of awesome, because our culture and society has learned how to embrace and appreciate our differences. Stereotypes and expectations for women have changed drastically, and for the better! Girls aren’t kept from playing contact sports, serving in the military, earning advanced education or (GASP), being the big boss at work!
I posted the Pigtail Pals Blog on my fan page because I think it’s full of awesome. Its mission is to educate. TO EDUCATE – BECAUSE KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! Once we have been provided with information, we can all choose how we will interpret it and apply it to our own interactions with our girl children. I just hope that no matter whether or not we agree when it comes to our individual parenting styles, that it doesn’t take away any of the awesome that was, is and will always be in our daughters.
And although Donny might not be your type and you might not like this song, I know how it makes me feel awesome. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXs0r47STuY
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