Have you ever felt…odd? Like you’re just a plain old weirdo? I’ve always felt different. I don’t know if there’s a black and white explanation for it, I’m just a bit out there sometimes. Even as a kid, I knew I wasn’t like the others. I’m not saying I’m hugely, noticeably eccentric or anything. I don’t go around wearing tiaras and throwing shrimp at people, but I’ve always felt like I didn’t fit in, even with my own siblings. Hell, even with my own twin, fraternal or not.
Sometimes I was aware of how “weird,” I was. I remember crying about it once, because I just felt so outside the rest of society. My twin just rolled her eyes. She’s always been exceedingly normal. Well, except that she wore a black Walter White style hat through the entirety of sixth grade, though that was more her abominable lack of hair washing versus quirkiness.
So, what constitutes weird, in my case? Gosh, I don’t know. I was a huge tattletale as a kid. Like, massive, so my twin, (henceforth referred to as T), and older brother would only sporadically let me play with them. Now, of course, I don’t blame them. Snitches do get stitches, after all. But at the time, I was lonely. I was forever whining to my dad that they wouldn’t let me play and he’d always give me the same lecture.
“When I was young, I loved playing alone. You just have to learn to enjoy being by yourself. Nothing wrong with that. Blah, blah, blah, make good choices.” Eventually, I did learn to love being alone. To this day I credit it with being forced to so as a kid. But, back then, I was SO bored. I used to follow the cat around on my hands and knees and mimic it because being a cat seemed preferable to being a person.
The cat hated me too.
Then, I went to a dog phase. I pretended to be a dog instead since they seemed like they’d do more than just lay around licking their assholes. Thank heavens I drew the line there. I remember one day T had her back to me and I bit her on the leg because I was a dog and that’s what dogs did. Yeah…didn’t fly well with my parents and I was forced to remain human henceforth.
I was a lonely little kid. Clearly. So anything that got me any attention from my siblings at all was worth doing in my book. Pick up gross slugs with my bare hands on a dare? Sure. Eat cat food? Why not? Shall I try wet, or dry? Both you say? Then both it shall be!
In my defense, I was like, 7, though I’m not proud of the cat food thing. I remember exactly how it tastes too. I…won’t get into it. The point is, I liked the attention, because I wasn’t alone. Even if people were going on about what a freak I was, I wasn’t alone.
Through the years, my weirdness continued. I shared a bunkbed with T and I used to jump down from the top bunk in my underwear and hop around the room like a monkey just to hear her prudish screams before I hopped back up with my clothes to get dressed in my bed. I did that every morning.
I was able to play with my twin and brother a bit more, by now, but was often alone and felt desperately lonely, especially as puberty crept closer.
I eventually made a friend, so it wasn’t all bad. She drove me crazy, but having another person in my life really helped. Especially since she was weird too. We used to pretend we were horses. We made harnesses out of yarn and sandwich bags that acted as the bit to put in our mouths. We didn’t like the taste of the plastic though, so I suggested we smear toothpaste on it. Consequently we became rabid horses on accident, on our hands and knees with toothpaste foam on our lips.
I have to say, my magnum opus of odd behavior occurred at age 11. One of my many sisters was getting married. Good riddance, she was a most unpleasant sort (at the time), but with the wedding the next day, guests from out of town were arriving.
Somehow, her soon to be sister in law was going to be stuck staying the night at our house. And where was she going to sleep? My room. I had a room to myself by now, and I suppose it was the least messy of all of us children. I was tasked with cleaning it in order for our guest to have an orderly place to stay, and, being an obedient sort, I did just that.
I can honestly say, it was the second-most thorough cleaning I’d ever given that room. When was the first, you ask? That was years later, and it would directly lead to what T and I refer to as “the instep incident.” For now, all you need know is that it involved a clean room, a can of Pringles, a fit of rage, and a permanent foot injury.
But enough about that.
So, cleaning. I spent the whole day at it. We’re not talking just shove everything under the bed and in the closet. No, I cleaned EVERYTHING. The likes of which that room had never seen. I was exhausted but immensely proud. Especially of under the bed. It was completely empty under there for the first time in my cat food eating existence! I couldn’t believe how cool it was too, like having my own little fort! It was dark and clean and like having a secret cave where no one could find me. I immediately became obsessed.
So. The houseguest.
This sister of the soon-to-be-groom was in her mid-twenties and a rather quiet, proper, lovely sort of person. The kind that never says butt and who says, “that’s funny,” rather than laughing when someone says a joke. The kind who seems like she was born with a pastel checker-print dress and over plucked eyebrows. Far too pure a person to be staying at MY family’s house.
And for some reason, she was going to get MY room and I was expected to sleep in there too.
Now, at almost 40, I think that’s weird. Houseguests don’t usually have to share a room with some random kid, right? Maybe we had other houseguests too? Who took up the other spaces? Or, did they just think it wasn’t a big deal? What the fuck? Seriously. The more I think about it, the more fucked up that is. I guess this poor girl was doomed from the start. And she was extra doomed, because she had to share a room with ME.
I remember she got in somewhat late, and my parents showed her to my room. I was still preening with pride over how clean it was. She thanked them and got ready for bed, coming back to this awkward looking thing with long stringy hair and teeth so crooked they looked like a Jenga set halfway through a game. I think I may have fished for a compliment, saying something like, “I cleaned it just today! Even the closet!” or some such 11 year old talk. She gave me a polite smile, you know, the kind that never reaches your eyes. The kind that’s thinking, “Why am I sharing a room with this little shit?” She looked at the room again. At the little single bed that used to be the top bunk I’d jumped down from naked every morning (we separated them when I got my own room).
“Uh…where are you going to sleep?” she questioned, uncertain. My poopy green eyes lit up, I’d been hoping she’d ask.
“Look!” I pointed, thrusting my finger downward. “I’m going to sleep UNDER the bed!”
I’d decided on it hours before. My new fort cave was perfect! There was almost two feet of room between the floor and the bed, more than enough for me! I was so excited. I’d get to sleep in my own secret hiding place!
The houseguest’s polite smile melted into a look of…”Da fuck?”
“Uh….you’re going to sleep under the bed?”
“Yes! Look! It’s so clean! I have tons of space!” I assured her with my Jenga grin. Her face was drooping into one of horror. I remember it perfectly, but of course, back then it didn’t register. How could it? I was 11, and a weird 11 at that.
I remember she tried to change my mind, acting like she didn’t want me to sleep on the floor, that it wasn’t enough space, and wouldn’t I be more comfortable somewhere else? Nope. I was not to be deterred. She was fucked.
I got under first, sliding in like some urban legend psycho. She hesitated for the longest time. I saw her legs just…standing there, probably wondering if the mattress was going to crush me. Maybe hoping it would. And then, she gingerly got in the bed.
SQQQQUUUEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAK!!! Went the mattress above me. And then, it never made another sound. She didn’t fucking move again the entire night.
I laid there, scrunched under that bed, no mattress, no sleeping bag, nothing but me and the hard ground and a single thin blanket and pillow.
And the worst thing? I remember lying there, just smiling.
“I’m a genius!” I thought. I was out of the way, I had my own secret fort, it had all worked out! And such a cool fort too, I had so much space! I wasn’t even uncomfortable, gee what a neat set up. And she must be comfortable too. After all, if she were tossing and turning, I’d hear it. I’d hear everything. She was only three inches above me, how could I not? I’d hear every single movement, so she must be comfortable to be lying so still. So still and so quiet. She was probably asleep already! I bet she loved this idea! It was pretty brilliant of me, I bet she thought so too. I bet she’d tell me so in the morning. Gee what a cool idea this was!
And so it went.
I laid awake like that for HOURS. I was giddy with excitement, like a kid whose mom lets them sleep in the backyard for the first time. I swear, that woman did not move. She just laid in that bed, probably praying morning would come fast.
We no doubt looked like this:
That poor woman.
The next day, she got up early and got the hell out. To this day, I’m sure she thinks of me as the psycho who slept under her bed all night. How can she not? I have a picture of me, at my older sister’s wedding the next day. Look.
Look at that face.
What. The. Hell.
Imagine that creature sleeping under your bed? To this day, over twenty five years later, I still cringe at this. What was I THINKING?! If I ever get around to the therapy I obviously need, this one should probably be addressed. Even just a way to get over the humiliation! On a positive note, at least I became cognizant over the years that such behavior is creepy. I consider that growth, and if there’s one thing I can lay claim to, it’s that I’ve become slightly less weird as I’ve grown older.
Case in point, when I met my husband (S), in my early twenties, I refused to eat in front of him. I watched him eat tacos on our first date, ordering nothing in spite of his repeated urging. Eventually, days later, I did eat in front of him, but only behind a menu, graduating to finally removing it if he promised not to look in my general direction. When we went to the store, I’d hand him my money to purchase things for me, since I was too scared to do it myself. I refused to drive on the freeway, I wouldn’t talk on the phone, the list went on and on.
My anxieties were through the roof. I couldn’t function. I felt so different. So “weird,” just like I always had. Being homeschooled through middle and high school hadn’t helped my angst. I really didn’t get out much, didn’t get many opportunities to interact with society at large. I was shy, and timid. So afraid of doing and saying something stupid that I was afraid to do anything.
So I didn’t.
But S changed that. He saw potential in me that I never saw in myself. He saw good things. Worthwhile things. He didn’t mind that I was weird. And my anxieties? He helped me work through them. We literally made a list and worked on it together, one thing at a time. I joke now that I’m “almost normal,” but people don’t really understand how accurate that is. I can drive now, I can talk to strangers, both on AND off the phone. I not only pay for things myself, I do most of the bills too. I can try new things, meet new people, eat all the food in front of anyone. I’ve come so very far. I’m more self-aware than I’ve ever been. Able to learn from my mistakes, of which there are SO many, with many more to come.
So what’s the point of all this? If you ever feel out of place. If you ever feel weird, or odd or unable to connect with what others expect of you? You’re not alone. Anxieties can be overcome. Friends can be made, habits changed. But guess what? Maybe you don’t want to make a list like I did. Maybe you don’t want to change right now, or ever. It’s ok to have anxieties, we all do. If you’re not ready to get rid of them, or if you are doing well as you are, then for heaven’s sake, don’t worry about it! Be happy as you are because there’s nothing wrong with that. That creepy little girl underneath the bed was happy as a clam. I mean, don’t sleep under the bed when someone’s in it, but my point is, you can be happy AND different. I loved jumping out of my bunk bed in my underwear, hearing my sister scream. I loved my under-the-bed fort. I loved pretending to be a dog. That’s actually how I became friends with my childhood bestie. We both decided at a sleep over that we’d rather be dogs while the other girls were playing house, and BAM. I’d found my person and she was as weird as I was. There are people out there who will love you for your differences, for your quirks, for your oddities. People who appreciate you for who you are, whether that be a lover, a friend, or just someone on Twitter who needs to know they aren’t the only one out there who feels like this.
The truth is, we’re ALL weird. All of us. We all feel out of place at times. It’s normal to feel abnormal. It’s ok to feel that way. Just realize that, so long as you’re not harming or disrespecting others, being weird is wonderful. Weird is the absolute best, actually. What would life be without a little eccentricity? A little color and pep and fun? The very idea is so boring! What a stupid, bland world that would be. And yes, perhaps being weird can lead to embarrassing stories at times. That’s life, we all have them. Hell, our very lives are nothing but a series of stories that have happened to us. Don’t let the cringey ones stop you from making new ones. It’s so worth it, and I promise you, it’s really not a big deal. Don’t be afraid to be you. To be odd. To be different. To have silly stories that make you want to hide in a closet and never tell anyone. Been there, done that. But now I laugh at it. Learning to laugh at yourself is one of the most healing gifts a person can learn. Laughing at yourself makes you brave. I really mean that. And then those experiences, those moments where we may have been a little less “normal” than we’d perhaps like, can be appreciated. Treasured. Enjoyed, even. I bet most people don’t have a story about having to sleep in a bed with a freaky little girl sleeping beneath it, like that houseguest does. So to that I say, you’re welcome lady. Happy I could help.
Now, grab your tiara and shrimp, everyone. Time to embrace the weird. We’ll all be happy you did.