I have never fit neatly into anything in my entire life.
I was the girl who acted more like a boy. The boy that wasn’t really a boy. The kid that played with whatever was lying around including sticks, bugs, and toads. I was picked on for being too rough and for being poor. I wasn’t friends with many girls and most of my friends were younger boys from the neighborhood who didn’t tell me that I was DIFFERENT.
That word still rings in my head the way it’s always been said to me. “You’re…different.” Like it was bad. Not like I was cool or unusual, but I was a deviant who should feel ashamed of why I wasn’t like everyone else. I grew up feeling so alone. I played four-person board games alone in my room because no one in my family would play with me. I would set up all the positions and then just move around the board, playing each position. I got Parcheesi once for Christmas or my birthday and no one ever wanted to play. So I stopped asking. I would just play it alone, and have fun by myself.
It makes me so sad when I see pictures of that kid. I don’t look so sad, but I feel it now. I feel every ounce of disappointment that kid felt, every bit of sadness for not being who my parents wanted. But in those pictures I don’t look sad because I am getting their attention. I was cheesy and goofy, making faces and acting over the top. I see it in school pictures too. The kid who didn’t fit in.
When I look at class pictures, I see the oddball that I was. All the girls are in cute dresses and jumpers. I am in some shirt, sometimes not even a nice shirt and I am the only “girl” with short hair, year after year. Sometimes I got made fun of for that too. “Why don’t you want to look like a girl,” they’d ask. I didn’t know how to answer and usually said something like, “I just don’t.” Or I’d ignore them and run off to do something else.
Why was I so different and why did it take me so long to even try to fit in? Was it because it took the world so long to break me and force me into compliance? I felt broken most of my life. I was defective and unable to fit in no matter how hard I tried. Why do we do that? Why do we force these ideals of who needs to be what to find people who want to know them? Like why do boys have to be tough and they can’t cry? Why do women have to want to wear dresses and makeup? Why do we tell ourselves and everyone around us that only women should wear makeup? And why do we force this on people like our lives depends on it? What does the world get out of shoving everyone into some specific box that they don’t even care about?
Why is it “brave” for women to take pictures with no makeup on? Why are men who hate sports and love music made fun of so much? Why are tough women treated like garbage that no one wants and why are sensitive men treated like they are less than? Why is it bad for men to put their women first and why do people think it’s ok to make fun of women who make more money than their husbands? None of this has ever made sense to me and it never will. I think makeup sucks and if someone hates sports, that’s fine. No one should have to fit into such narrow parameters that they are uncomfortable as they try to pretend they are something they really aren’t.
I wish I had more answers. I wish men and women didn’t treat each other so badly. And themselves. Women patrol women and men patrol men. I wish makeup didn’t exist and people weren’t shoving fucking botox in their face to try and look 20 years old forever. I wish that we could all wear what we want and no one would stare or make fun of anyone for what they wear. Mostly I wish that all of us were comfortable enough in who we are to just leave each other alone. Let’s just find our own people who like to do what we like to do and not make fun of anyone else who might like different things.