In a way, I´ve always felt like I was out of place. I was the shy girl who would run and hide whenever put in a situation where I would have to be around a lot of people. I felt awkward and clumsy. From the time I was a child through, although slightly to a lesser extent, my adulthood, I found more peace being by myself. It's ironic, because I enjoy being around people, but I'm terrified of doing so. I consider myself an extroverted introvert, a work in progress. This was never more true than when I was in school.
I remember the night when I was four and my grandma stopped me as I was happily playing with my toy vacuum to announce that I would be starting school the next day. I looked up at her with a look of shock on my face. Little did I know that this would begin a saga that would last the next fifteen years. School started off difficult for me, as the other kids would make fun of me by refusing to play with me because I was a nerd, taking my barbie dolls from my locker, and even once yanking my pants down in the middle of the classroom.
Thankfully things did get a bit better after that, though I would still encounter the occasional bully. At one point I retaliated by faking sick for an entire month to get out of class. This would wear thin with my teacher, the principal, and my grandparents. After my grandma introduced me to cod liver oil, my days of retaliation came to an abrupt end.
By the time I was around twelve, my awkward years really began. Acne, braces, clothes that were a little less than stylish, and one poorly advised haircut that made me look like Michael Jackson from the seventies. I was made fun of by that, as well as my rather outdated choice of music. I would come on crying due to being laughed at so much.
In time, I began to find my own way. In junior high, my grandparents encouragingly pushed me into finding an extracurricular activity to help me out of my shell. Being the music lover that I am, I reluctantly chose band class. In that, I was able to meet other kids with similar interests as me. I was able to attend football games and pep rallies, as well as take the occasional overnight field trip for competitions.
Granted, my awkwardness remained and would often come to light anytime I had to perform in the spotlight. But I was able to find out who I was, and who I could be. Eventually, my braces came off, I was able to pick out my own clothes, and my hair finally grew back out. I made friends that liked me for who I was. I was still teased a little, but now instead of being pushed to tears, I was able to laugh along.
I´m still pretty awkward, and I still can't stand being around a lot of people. But I feel more comfortable in my own skin now. The one thing I can tell anybody who finds themselves in a similar situation is to always be true to yourself. Find a close group of friends who love you for you. Find what makes you happy and go into that direction. It's ok to follow your own path instead of following everyone else´s. Being different isn't that bad after all, because in the end, we´re not as different as we may think. Just be you.