that day you wake up and realize you’re weird
I despise the ordinary. As a child, I would day dream and play pretend all the time. I always hoped something incredible or extravagant would one day happen to me. In some twisted sense, I used to fantasize that something tragic would befall me. I wanted a cure from the mundanity of my life, any cure.
Since my childhood, I have now met people with actual tragedy in their lives. And it is far less glamorous than I imagined it. Still there was some part of me that even as an adult envied their experiences. They had a story, a story that people wanted to hear. They led far more interesting lives than I could ever lay claim to. I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but as a young adult I was quickly realizing I had very little to write about.
Everything exciting or grand in my life had either been non-existent blips or things I’d experienced in proxy. This didn’t make for great writing. I found myself wanting to write but feeling as though I had nothing to say. I had no story of my own to tell.
In high school, I was certain that the best use of my talent and passion for story was to become a journalist. This way I could write about other peoples’ lives. I was sure that telling stories was what I was meant to do, and since I had none of my own, journalism had to be the right path.
Well, 6 years, two schools, and forty thousand dollars of debt later, I still had no prospects for journalism either. Now, I was forced into that mundane existence of adulthood we all know too well. I had to earn money. I tried to use my skills in marketing, but the economy was in the dumps and so were any prospects of a full-time job. So I succumbed to the plight of the typical college graduate, retail.
As an adult I developed an acute case of Facebook envy. I saw fellow college mates get their “dream jobs” and go on to live their lives in exactly the way they wanted. (Or at least, this is how it appeared.) I stood up and stood by in many weddings and shared in the joy of my friends as life just seemed to happen for others. Always a bridesmaid never a bride anyone? I tried many different times to force change, but still my life seemed insistent on being boring.
I went on for years just trying to survive and writing when I could think of anything to say, which was not often. I hated my life, everything in it seemed dead and stale. I was living a quiet, boring, ordinary existence. If good writing comes from extraordinary experiences then I knew that my career as a writer was doomed.
One night, I was drinking wine with my friend, Meg. I admitted to her that my deepest fear was that I would never be a writer because nothing has ever happened to me. I told her that I’ve dated but never truly been in love. I even told her that I was a then 28-year-old virgin. And what was worse, “I’ve never even been kissed.”
“WHAT!?!?!” Meg shouted.
Now I know you are all probably just as shocked as she was, so go on take a minute to absorb that information. I know that was a doozy of a truth bomb I just dropped. So go ahead, reread it if you need to or just take a second to wrap your head around it.
Okay. Better now? Is your jaw off the ground and properly aligned again? Good, then I’ll continue.
Her stunned face was both hysterical and annoying to me. I knew I was pathetic and I didn’t need to be told so by her nearly inebriated face, but ultimately I guess this was the reaction I should have expected. Most people don’t get to be as old as I am without having their first kiss. We then talked at some length as to why this was the case. And then we talked at greater length as to why it was so shocking to her because seriously, the story as to why I haven’t yet been kissed isn’t that long.
I began to feel as strange as the look on her face. This was it, now I knew I was right, I would never be a writer. How could I be a writer without sharing one of the most basic of all human experiences.
I fixated on this “problem” for what I hate to admit was far too long, and am embarrassed to say probably stopped me from doing some really important work on my writing. I wanted to do anything that would help me become a writer so I looked for ways to make my life seem less boring. I even asked a friend to kiss me just to get that whole thing over with, I am grateful now that he politely declined.
One morning, I woke up and thought about this conversation yet again. Something that Meg said that night hit me in a whole new way, “Why wouldn’t that shock me? That’s really weird.”
“That’s really weird.”
She didn’t mean this as an insult, it was just a statement of the facts. That is really weird. I am really weird. Though I always knew I was weird it was almost like I was realizing what this actually meant it for the first time.
What changed about this morning was that I realized something else, as a writer, being weird is my super-power. I like being weird. It doesn’t bother me in the least anymore. I always wished to be anything but ordinary, and now I have my wish.
I thought that not having the experience of my first kiss or my first lay would hold me back as a writer and as a person. But the truth is that making it to thirty-two without these experiences has been an experience in and of itself. No I’m not just trying to make myself feel better about my weird life, quite the contrary. I don’t need to feel better about my weird life because I feel pretty damn good about my life. I love my weird.
Learning to love and embrace my weirdness has been one of the most painfully interminable experiences of my life. But coming to this realization has finally made me understand the most important thing any writer, or person, can know. We all have stories to tell.