Different

Early in life, I learned that I was different. And it wasn’t something I wanted to be. I longed to be like everyone else. I wanted to play with the cool kids, like roller skating, play with Barbie dolls and do all the things that normal little girls do.

Instead, I read books while sitting under a tree in the park. Alone. I had friends, but I made them one at a time. In my post toddler years it was Sandy Evanuick who lived a few houses down from mine. Who had long brown pigtails and had to wear saddle shoes – which I thought were really cool until I started grade school. Ooops, not so much. Sandy and I were inseperable until they moved away to California. I was heartbroken and kept to my books and forgot about making friends until junior high. Dorothy Rehbine, another brunette, became a fast friend and remained so all the way through high school. But then she married her high school sweetheart and I moved onto other things.

Try as I might, I never got the hang of being popular or cool. I dressed weird (I guess), I acted weird, didn’t seem to be into the swing of things. With the exception of Rudy Richards whom I met in kindergarten and who harrassed me throughout gradeschool, boys didn’t seem too interested in me. Nor I in them. Boys were icky and smelly, not very smart and didn’t like to read.

Yes, I knew I was different. I knew that I was never going to be a cheerleader, a yuppie, a fundraiser, politician or celebrity. You had to be charming and pretty and popular and know the code of the popular people. You needed to understand how to flirt and use your wiles to get what you wanted. You weren’t supposed to just say exactly what you thought, or wanted or believed. You weren’t supposed to be indifferent to parties and proms, frilly dresses, hairstyling and batting eyelashes.

Instead of peers, I sought out adults to converse with. I frequently had conversations with my mother over cups of tea, discussing the dynamics of family politics and diplomatic and not so diplomatic ways to deal with same.

I started a babysitting service, lied about my age and worked as a waitress, bought my own books and clothes, cut my own hair. I employed my own brain to execute my life, such as it was. I was my own person. Lonely as it was sometimes, it was to be my path in life. And most of the time it was okay with me. Most of the time I didn’t mind that my phone didn’t ring off the hook on Friday nights and had so many invitations that my biggest problem was which one to decline.

But sometimes I wondered – What is it like to be popular? What is it like to be normal? How would my life be different if I had been?

Did I become a writer because I was different, or was I different because I was a writer? Did I just know my mind and myself so early in life that I effectively bypassed my childhood and moved straight into adulthood? Mom used to say I was born 40. Maybe she was right.

What about you? Are you different? When did it first dawn on you? Do you wish you weren’t?

WC

19 thoughts on “Different

  1. Different, yes. You just described my childhood as well. I didn’t think of myself as a loner, but I usually had one friend, two at the most. I always had my nose in a book also. What made me different was that I was a military kid. I was always the new kid. I was always the stranger. And a shy one at that. I was usually called a snob because I was so incredibly shy, so quiet. I kept to myself, not because I didn’t want to talk to the other girls. Not because I didn’t want to belong, but because I didn’t think I belonged. Because I didn’t think they’d want to talk to me. And to this day, I’m still quiet. Yeah, I know. Hard to believe, yes? I’m still reserved, quiet, and extremely shy. But that’s okay. That’s me. And I love me!

    Hey Red,
    Me too. Very shy. In fact, left to my own devices I’m still shy. Yes, hard to believe of me as well but nonetheless true. Being a military kid must have been difficult – the constant change and travel. I think you turned out great though. I love you too. πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  2. Do you know, I’ve heard this story so often that I think those who claim to be ‘different’ and ‘loners’ are really more numerous than the party goers.
    I guess ‘different’ is the norm. I’d certainly include myself in this category. Just a good job we don’t ALL decide we want to be writers, or you and I would stand no chance, WC πŸ™‚

    Hey Anthony,
    I wonder if you’ve heard this story so much because like attracts like or if in fact, we are the norm. Interesting thought to ponder. I think a lot people fancy themselves writers – I’ve heard it said that every person has at least one book in them. Perhaps what separates the wheat from the chaff is the willingness to persist. πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  3. Me too.
    At 6 I had read “To Kill A Mickingbird”. Twice.

    I still read a lot. And only have a few friends at a time. I had bad hair, and weird clothes (I was a preppie in the 80’s).

    It kind of makes me wonder: do the cool kids feel the same way? Do they look back and say the same things we’re saying? Does someone, somewhere, remember you and I as one of the cool kids?

    Probably. I still say I had bad hair. OMG…I think I’ll do a bad hair post this weekend. Me, through the years.

    Wow Jess,
    You and me could have been nerdy BFF’s. πŸ™‚ Me too with the bad hair – until I learned to let it be itself and found a hairdresser who could cut around it. πŸ˜†
    WC

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  4. Being different and being rather extroverted was hard. Homeschooled and two moves at 12 and 14 really broke my life into strata: Young Matthew and the new annoying Matthew.

    I’m the second of 7 so I was never without companionship and my brothers and I had loads of fun growing up as very normal boys, defying death every day just because we could. But I wanted friends, and as I began college and began developing an independent streak around 16 and could actually be available to friends, I fit in. But it wasn’t with the cheerleaders or the jocks or the emo and goth or anybody but different people like me πŸ™‚

    I’m still convinced that my friends will all change the world in big ways, their dreams are too big for one small body, and I love each one of them. Then, even though we were different, we had each other, and so we didn’t feel as different any more.

    BTW, thanks for the blogroll add. I’ve just added you as well.

    Matthew you are quite the young man. I admire your enthusiasm and your differentness. Happy to add you to the blogroll.
    WC

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  5. Hell, yeah girl. Even at my ripe old age, I’m still the weirdo! The only time in my life I was considered part of a “popular” group was when I was in the military, 30 years ago.

    Hey, maybe we ARE part of the “in crowd” now. Maybe we’ve made our own popular group! I’m a lot less shy online than I am in real life…I think we all are.

    LOL – yeah we’re definitely in the ‘in crowd’ now. For sure. πŸ˜†

    But I’m wondering…if you were in the military for 30 years, how’d you avoid guns for that long? Is there a tee shirt division? πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  6. I think that every person feels they are different and that they don’t quite fit in. I believe if you took the most popular person in a given social circle that dispite what seems to be that they would tell you that they feel different and don’t really feel that they belong.
    We are all different and yet so much alike.
    Very good thoughts.

    Hey Mark,
    I’m sure that all people have some self doubt and possibly even feel alienated from time to time. But that really wasn’t the kind of different I was talking about. I wasn’t even complaining about it – just noticing it is all. It’s not just the crowd you run with or whether or not you’re a cheerleader – it’s the deeper stuff too. I know for a fact, that I think differently than most people – I see things differently. I cover it up quite well and certainly know how to find common ground – but different is as different does isn’t always the same.
    WC

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  7. At one time I thought I was ‘different’. But I realized that the only thing that was truly different than me and others were my perceptions of myself and others. Sure…I have my own way of doing things. But just as every snowflake is ‘unique’, they are still all snowflakes.

    In a way, being “different” was a defense mechanism for me – like armor, warding off feelings of getting hurt or rejected or whatever. After awhile, it became a point of pride and ego. I relished being different.

    But in the end, there is truly nothing new under the sun and we are all so much more alike than we are different.

    What happened when I dropped my story that I was different??? The most amazing things happen.

    Grace!
    Where have you been? I have missed you.

    I think I’m going to respectfully disagree – I don’t think that we are much more alike than we are different from one another. Certainly we have things in common since we are all human beings, well, at least most of us are πŸ˜‰ But I think we aren’t all the same.

    Are you blogging again? When? Where? I know, I’m being pushy. πŸ˜‰

    WC

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  8. I’ll tell you exactly what would happen if you were immersed in a diverse posse all your life-

    You’d be working at a supermarket. That’s right. The kids to who stayed out and partied all night instead of studying or reading always grow up to be screwed (no pun intended). Every single time. The smart kids always have the bigger paycheck. (Mooching off of relatives or things like nepotism don’t count, that’s just shameful.)

    I don’t know…free groceries sounds kind of good. πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  9. I’ve always been different. Yet, I have always been accepted for my difference. I think that we should grasp those things which bring us together not those things that make us different. If that doesn’t work, fuck ’em and feed ’em fish heads.

    In Japan, fish heads are a delicacy. πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  10. Ah – this is such a good subject for a long
    discussion.

    I’d like to share a story if you don’t mind.

    I was once in a strategic meeting with a room full of professional business heads. We were stuck on a decision and everybody kept arguing back and forth, tossing numbers, charts, theories, references at each other.
    I felt completely out of place thinking: “here I am with all these business minded people, I don’t belong here, this decision for me has nothing to do with numbers but is a question of heart. Guess I’m just in the wrong company, I shouldn’t even be in business at all”.
    The argument went on and my inner voice just kept getting louder. I was ready to quit my carreer anyway by that point and so I got up and shared my ‘heart decision’ thoughts. If I lost their respect, so what, I’d go do something else.

    What happened next was not only unexpected, it changed my thinking around ‘thinking we are different’:

    I sat down, the room was silent, and I saw tears in a lot of eyes. Tears! In the eyes of top business executives! To this day, I can’t remember what I babbled exactly, but that doesn’t matter. What mattered is the lesson learnt by sharing what it is inside without fearing the consequences. And that now matter who we are dealing with, there is a spot on which we can all connect. But unless we share, we will never know.

    Thanks for sharing everytime you do Annie and letting us connect. And I can’t wait to connect some more πŸ™‚ .

    Aw Spaz,
    What a wonderful story. It’s amazing that when you do speak from your heart that it almost always changes things in ways you would never have dreamt it would.
    Annie

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  11. I think it’s the only way to be: “different.” Do you notice that the people who make a difference and who stand out as adults are usually the ones who are different? I remember reading that Bill Gates said he had no friends growing up and was never invited to birthday parties and such. I think that was perfectly fine with him. Give me a good book anytime over a chance to be the life a party!

    Hey Keli,
    I think all us diffies πŸ˜‰ should all come over to your cave for a par-tay. We could celebrate being different. πŸ™‚
    WC

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  12. Ah, and perfect picture by the way, again, we don’t see the beautiful white feathers until they are opened.

    Finally, someone said something about that picture. Isn’t it incredibly beautiful and amazing? I never knew there was such a thing as an albino peacock. Now I want to see one in person. πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  13. WC – Nah, it was 30 years ago – 1975 to 1979. I’m thinking about writing a post or two about it in the near future.

    Oh yeah, Karen
    I definitely want to read those posts. Maybe we could write songs and do duets like the Haines Sisters. πŸ˜†
    WC

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  14. (((( WC )))) Hiya, Doll πŸ™‚

    I love it when you respectfully disagree! LOL And I hear what you’re saying. We all come with our own unique perspective, experiences, feelings, gifts, etc. And hellyeah, I still occasionally feel like I’m the only kitten in the pig pen (LOL..where did THAT analogy come from, she asks herself???). I can only say this…I still feel that on a basic level, we are more alike than we are different… and big KISSES with that comment.

    Now about blogging…no. No I’m not blogging. I’m thinking about starting a new one but it doesn’t feel like the right time, yet. Huge changes (positive) going on here…and more intaking than outputting.

    But if I do??? You’ll be one of the first to know!!

    (((((Gracie))))) Hiya Doll yerself!
    I love being the only kitten in the pigpen – great visual btw.

    I’m glad to hear there are good changes going on – but I do miss your voice out here in the neighborhood.

    You better put me on the speed dial if/when you come back. I’m so there. πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  15. I always thought I was different from everyone else in my family. I thought differently, was more passionate, more dramatic. To the rest of my family, I was less than normal, often called weird.
    Now they embrace my differences but it took me doing it first. Great post.
    Kim

    Hey Kim,
    I have had a similar thing with my family. Maybe it is more about how we perceive ourselves than how others do. Hard to say. How’s your sis?

    WC

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  16. Interesting. I grew up in a large family. I never had trouble making friends or “fitting in” so to speak. I was not the most popular by far. I always felt compelled to make others feel like they fit in. I had to beat up quite a few “meanies” on the playground for my younger sister and my nieces. We are all special and different in our own way. Live and let live. Don’t pick on the bookworm, and don’t pick on the bubbly cheerleader – we are all just dogs trying to get a bone πŸ˜‰

    Oh Bella,
    You’re making too much sense. And yeah, we are all just dogs trying to get a bone. πŸ˜†
    WC

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  17. Hi WC,

    Sorry, but I can’t recall a time when I didn’t know I was different. I did, however, figure out why in sixth grade, when I realized that most people didn’t dislike me, but just didn’t have the background information to understand what I was talking about. I felt bad about this for quite a while, until I finally convinced myself that it it isn’t my fault most people don’t bother to soak up all the knowledge they can during these extraordinary times of free flowing information! It took several years to adapt to this, but I eventually learned to limit the number of references I make to obscure literary works and to not assume that everyone knows how electrical transformers work, or how fast various types of bamboo grow. This, plus memorizing a few fart jokes, did wonders for my social life. I’ve made a point of developing these skills over the years until, after much effort, I can fit into almost any social situation, from discussing the good points of various cheap beers and equally cheap women with field hands to discussing the artistic merit of various crap paintings and equally crap sculptures with the upper crust at an exhibition. Ah, if I could only bring myself to use my power for evil, and make some money off it! Oh, and the fart jokes work in all situations with only minor changes in wording.

    the Grit

    Hi Grit,
    It is amazing how very unifying fart jokes are. Not to mention the lighting of one’s personal farts as well. Hairdo’s, recipes, gossip and American Idol are also right up there in the unification of diversely different human beings.

    I agree, your power used for evil would certainly have changed the course of history – who knows what life would be like today if you had gone the route of Lex Luther. πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  18. yup ~ so different it hurt sometimes. i loved to read and write and sit and daydream. i didn’t dress like the cool kids, i didn’t have money, i had a lot of responsibility with a sister who had cerebral palsy and i was doing catheders by the time i was 12, i was always kinda of out of step and went against the norm and by the time i was a teenager i had dyed my hair orange, cut it myself and lived in army boots and pink longjohns with tiny snowflakes on them as i tromped to school amidst big feathered hair beauties and while they talked about who they would marry, i talked about shaking the dust off that small town and traveling and going to university and living … i remember actually getting into a fight with a ‘friend’ who told me i couldn’t do everything i wanted and that i had to pick one thing. um. okay. i guess for her it was true but then i was different and i am so okay with that now : )

    loved this post!! : )

    Hey Daisies,
    It is amazing how others seem to want us to only do one thing. They want to make us pick. I wonder why. I’m glad you didn’t. Your voice is indeed, special.
    WC

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  19. Well, I always knew I was different as a kid, and I got singled out for it just like you did. I was never in sync with the people around me, looking back, I know I was thinking ahead of them, too mature, but I really thought I was just being childish at the time, and I couldn’t break myself from it. When I was really young, I was a rather extroverted kid, and loved to play with everyone I could. I even had a girlfriend at age 5, that I got to kiss and everything, and could never understand why other people thought it strange. After two moves over several years, my life got broken up, just like many of the other folks on here, making my eccentric and odd nature even more pronounced, and I got targeted for it. The nail that stands up gets hammered flat, I suppose, was their philosphy. The barrage from those around me caused me to withdraw into myself, creatings stories and world to entertain myself rather than join in with others. Of course, that just made it worse when I actually had to engage with people in the real world. As I progressed through college and to today, I eventually learned to somewhat deal with those around me, and pass myself off as half-normal, though it usually feels more like an act than being myself. I could never understand the lack of…sincerity I saw in how people dealth with each other in relationships and whatnot, but at the same time, I was rather detached from those around me, more an observer than a participant. Even now I’ll lapse into my head at times, losing track of where I am or what I’m doing. However, that has also given me the fuel to become a decent writer, after all, imagination is the key ingredient to writing a good fiction. If you can’t see it in your own mind, how can you project that image into someone else’s? My writing started as a way for people to better understand my feelings and thoughts, but has progressed now into something I’m trying to pursue as a career, though I still don’t know if I’m good enough to do it.

    Well, before I rant on you further, I do greatly appreciate your post, and I wholeheartedly feel the same way in how I grew up. I wish you the best in the future!

    X&V,
    K.D.S.

    Hey KDS,
    I’m glad that my post spoke to you – if only to let you know that there are a bunch of us out here too.

    Drop by any time – this is oddball heaven over here. πŸ˜‰
    WC

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