I have always felt like a complete weirdo. The label of “weird” has been alternately used to express confusion from others about my behavior or hurled as a coldly vicious insult. I grew up hearing it on the playground, year after year…after year. I got called weird in first grade and as a senior in college. I literally cannot count how many times I’ve seen a person freeze their expression, look me over and then say, “You’re really weird, do you know that?”
For years I had a love/hate relationship with my weirdness. In middle school I became hyper-observant about the dress, mannerisms, language and cultural codes of eighth-grade girls. I memorized them all and tried to imitate them. It didn’t work. My weirdness leaked out. In high school I tried to camouflage myself by joining dozens of different groups—Theater, Track, Yearbook Committee, National Honor Society. It didn’t work. I still said and did things that were undeniably weird. I still got the look.