Recently I read an essay written by a friend that mentioned Avril Levigne. Specifically citing the song Complicated, it stirred up different emotions for me as when I was in middle school I was a HUGE fan of hers. In this music video she came off with Fuck it attitude that I related to as well as looked up to. She was a cute girl but dressed like a boy while looking feminine and still got to hang out with the boys and do dumb boy stuff. I too had a Fuck it attitude at that age and felt a kinship and admired that she did and said what she wanted while also seeming sexually admirable. I thought she was SO cool I had my dad teach me how to tie a tie and started incorporating them into my wardrobe.
At this point in middle school I had already established myself as being “weird”. Now, I wasn’t the weirdest kid or the one people picked on the most, but I liked to color during recess and talk to the teaching aids about their kids and what their lives outside of work were like instead of running around and playing with my peers. I was always chubby and the tallest one in our entire class. I also got my period and started growing breasts at 11 so being so physically different than the other girls made me feel like an oddity as they were all still small little flat chested girls. I would read books and make art and go in AOL chat rooms to meet people to try and connect to, and learned early on not to mention this to my classmates at school as this came off as an odd thing to do. While I reached out to peers to hang out on Friday nights I often wouldn’t get called back and would take the long 45 minute bus ride home choking back tears about why I was so different and no one wanted to hang out with me on a Friday night.
While I can look back and can see how isolated and lonely I felt at the time I felt comfortable there. I spent a lot of time watching TV and throwing myself into art projects as it was something I could zenly do alone. I think my mom could see this and supported me by taking me to the art, bead, and book stores to show she could see the things I was passionate about and liked to do. One day she came home and bought me a book called Fruits, a Phaidon photo book about the Harijuku phenomenon in Japan. I instantly became enamored with this style of dressing and adopted this into my life. One day I would be dressed in head to toe rainbow colors with glitter caked onto my eyes. Another day I would be dressed in all black with heavy black eyeliner. My best friend at the time was Wiccan and everyone thought she would cast spells on them. And the two of us were constantly listening to the Deftones and pretty much the entire Queen of the Damned soundtrack because damn that movie was cool and Aaliyah was beautiful and the soundtrack sounded like how I felt on the inside. It was easy to connect to this girl as she was the new Weird girl and I had been kind of alone in that since kindergarden.
By the time Complicated came out, I had been dressing differently from the pack for a while but this was a girl that was on MTV doing it and getting attention from boys! This was quite a concept as I had a firm place where I was friends with boys and they would come to me for advice on how to date other girls. This made me feel rejected but also trusted and still desired in an odd way (not sexually but there was still something I had to offer to the opposite sex).
While I felt sad and lonely and isolated and misunderstood, I never tried to conform. Once I found out that I could be different and in that place I felt safe and like myself I adopted that lifestyle. I didn’t start trying to match the pack until around junior year of high school and even then still continued to feel comfortable being Weird even if it was just my hobbies and how I had no shame talking about whatever whenever I wanted. The older I got the easier it was to make friends as I became more comfortable with myself and this idea of who I wanted to be.
After graduating from college, I have reverted back to the pre-Avril mindset. I am constantly judging myself about what to wear, do, and how to act. I am paralyzed with making wrong decisions or anxiously over thinking how to state my opinion and not be judged by the group I am with. I keep thinking that I want to get back to this place of feeling comfortable. I think that’s probably why I dyed my hair pink, because I am comfortable in being Weird. Being in New York, I feel not only comfortable but completely accepted. Everyone here is weird. They were all the weird kids in their small towns that left to go find a giant city of Weirds. I am just another fish in a giant sea and I can be completely myself and not stand out or be seen as odd. Here I am no longer Weird, I’m just me.