Thursday, December 11, 2008

Weirdo Pride

I have been a weirdo for most of my life. I know it’s an ill-defined term, but it’s also the only way I can think to describe my life. Everything else sounds pretentious: outcast? A “sense of otherness?” Gag me with a rake.

But yeah, I’ve always been a weirdo. A lot of it was self-inflicted, but a lot of it was just me – I was weird, I was quiet, I liked things that other kids had never heard of. (This was back when the Lord of the Rings fandom was dominated by college professors, not twelve-year-old girls.) The internet was a godsend; I spent most of my time there mingling with adults who enjoyed Jane Austen, never letting on to the fact that I was just a kid.

It’s no surprise that I’ve grown up to despise precocious little children. Now I can see their obvious immaturity, the way they talk a big talk, yet lack the emotional insight to deal with…anything, really. Maybe there are a lot of kids who are slipping under my radar by failing to mention their ages, as I hope I did.

My whole life I had to deal with “the homeschooling issue.” I had the following conversation about eight million times:

“So where do you go to school?”

“I’m homeschooled.”

“Ohmigod, really? You seem so down-to-earth! I mean I’m not saying you should be stuck up or something, but wow, that’s just, your mom must have been really committed to your education! Do you get to wake up whenever you want? Are you going to college? BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH HEE DA.”

I very seldom ran into negative reactions, since most people are tactful enough to keep their thoughts to themselves in casual social interactions. There was one notable exception: two fifty-something women in line outside a store (it was a Beanie Baby thing, back when those were cool) who confronted my mom about homeschooling me. Basically, they explained (in front of me) how I was going to be socially retarded for the rest of my life and how she was a Bad Mother (true, but for different reasons). When she explained that she had worked in the school system for eleven years and was a bit soured on the whole thing as a result, they just blustered on about how IT WAS DIFFERENT NOW AND SHE WAS SO OUT OF TOUCH AND YOUR POOR DAUGHTER IS ALREADY SUFFERING LOOK AT HOW SHE WON’T MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH US. (Because you’re a huge bitch, lady.)

I did have quite a few intensely awkward social experiences growing up, but I soon discovered that I'd just been unlucky. As soon as I move on to junior college, I had no problem making friends. It wasn't hard to find people who shared my interests and sense of humor, and even the same group of dubious acquaintances I grew up with in the homeschooling world had matured and branched out and were a lot of fun. But even then, I continued to be the weirdo.

Instinctively, I presented myself as being relatively normal by using words like "curfew" (I'd never had one, since I had nowhere to go) instead of "my mom doesn't let me go anywhere" and "my ride is here" instead of "my mom is here to pick me up since I don't have a license." It worked. I had a good time there. I blended in, somehow.

Nowadays I am a weirdo again. I met my husband on The Internet. (Trust me, those Dateline jokes never get old.) We work nights and sleep during the day (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP CALLING BEFORE 6PM OR I WILL PERSONALLY STAB YOU IN THE FACE). I don't have a ton of friends knocking down my door. While I have a license now, I don't have a car, and a Big Day Out consists of a trip to Walmart, Target, AND Friendly's. From a certain point of view, my life is relatively lame. Sometimes I feel the need to defend it. But other times I realize, hey. This is just me. This is how I live. And I know I'm not the only one, thanks to the internet.