This song by Daft Punk resonates with me. When I was younger, I felt very strong emotions, loneliness, and sorrow. So many things contributed to these feelings. There were times that I was afraid, alone, and I never felt like I belonged anywhere. I used to feel like I was too intelligent to relate to the average kids, and not smart enough to relate to the intelligent kids.
I remember being woefully bored and forcing myself to be stupid just to have a place to fit in. I remember not being smart enough for the brightest of the bright who scoffed at me. I could only imagine that the way they felt about me was the same that I felt about the kids that I viewed less intelligent than me. In the end, I preferred the less intelligent, because they were nicer. In fact, some of the best and most loyal friends are those slower than your average person. I had “special” friends growing up, but I admit that I eventually pulled away from them because I was loosing myself. Still, I stopped trying in school and didn’t care about it, because being smart isolated me from the average person. Yet, I isolated myself many times when my brain demanded real stimulation, but it made me woefully alone too. I cannot express enough how ALONE I felt even surrounded by friends. It’s what makes me so empathetic.
I managed to fake being different types of me, but none of them were truly me. Some things couldn’t be changed and pieces of me always managed to break the suffice no matter how much I punished myself for it later. No one was like me… and it’s not that I needed someone like me, I just needed someone I could be me with. I know a lot of my old school friends would say that I could, but it’s not so. I don’t blame them. I’m sure they were finding themselves too. My issue wasn’t peer pressure, it was just being so different.
Being different is a good thing, but back then, I hated myself. I hated the real me for being so different. I blamed myself for being alone. Why couldn’t I just be what I needed to be? I fought myself, because on the inside, I just wanted to be free. In turn, I also hated the self that wasn’t me. I hated every incarnation of myself that I created. I was determined to be a good person, not that I always managed to get it right. I can appreciate that I have always been good at heart.
I remember talking to my therapist, when I was a teenager, about those alternate selfs. At some point, I had started to name them. It was my way of separating my real self from all the faces that weren’t me. It’s one of the ways that I fought loosing myself to something I wasn’t. Eventually, I forgave myself for being so hateful to me. I look back as those named masks and I thank them for being there for me. They were all part of me, aspects of me… after all, I did create them. Please understand, this wasn’t like “United States of Tara”. I only re-invented myself, many times, and only named them in rebellion of pretending to be someone I wasn’t. I was “Michelle” all along… just not who I truly was on the inside.
In the end, I wish I had not forsaken school (as much as I deplore the school system), and I wish I had been able to just be happy being me. I wish I hadn’t felt like there was something wrong with me, because there wasn’t (other than the inner turmoil). I wish I had known that when I grew up, I would find what I had been so desperate to fine. I found myself and the people that I could relate to. I learned that there are different kinds of smart in the world. I am sure that those smart kids learned a hard lesson about life and relating too.
When parents tell their kids that life gets better when you grow up, most kids don’t believe them. It’s hard to believe it when you are surrounded by the stupidity and the life you have almost no control over when you’re a child. I have come to see just how important home life is for children. When a childhood is riddled with violence, fear, loss, and solitude… it makes it hard to believe that the world is different when you grow up. With the right home life and proper family support, I imagine growing up is a much different experience. I don’t blame my parents…. sometimes life is rough. It was just as rough for my mother and my brother as it was for me. Even now, my brother still struggles. I can relate to that struggle and I hope that he finds himself and a place where he belongs… a place he can be happy.
I am happy now. I know who I am. Ironically, I found that I love cosplaying and roleplaying! I’m pretty good at creating characters and portraying them. This isn’t a surprise, given what I explained about those alternate selfs. I have an appreciation for those named masked in the closet of my memories. I’ve even used a few of them as inspiration in role playing games and stories I’ve written. I love creating, and perhaps I wouldn’t have been as creative or talented as I am now, if I hadn’t suffered inner turmoil. Would I even be the same person today if I hadn’t struggled in childhood? If I had the perfect upbringing, would I have ended up average? Did that environment, those experiences, and the losses create the recipe that made me different? I am thankful that I’m not average, that I’m different. In a way, I value the strife of my childhood as a necessary upbringing to who I am today.