Loser Like Me: It Does, Eventually, Get Better
Everyone You Want To Be Probably Started Off Like Me
I don't recall much off life before around grade 4 or so, but what I do remember boils down to touch football with the kids from my street - all of whom went to the same school as I did - and when I wasn't playing that or helping build human pyramids (once we figured out how, we did it every chance we had, with me as the photographer), I spent my time hanging out with my teachers. Doesn't that just scream cool?
I got along with everyone just fine. I was known as the girl who was always in competition for the Academic Award every year with Robert Engelhardt, the boy who in retrospect was likely my first crush, though I was blind enough to not realize it then. Rob was cool. He was the towheaded boy who I always remember had that sort of serious dreamer quality, with warm dark eyes and a natural athletic ability. I, on the other hand, was around 5'8" by the time I was 10, and had the awkwardness - and the mouthful of braces and a headgear - to go with it.
Of course, I was game for just about anything: pick up games of football, ball tag, intramurals (especially baseball - on one memorable occasion, during a sprint to home plate, I tripped over the catcher's leg and landed face first in the dirt and gravel, which wedged in between my braces)...but in spite of all my efforts, I think I felt very much as though I was somehow inferior. Sure, I had book smarts, and that came very naturally, but sports and anything that girls were, at the time supposed to do...not so much.
My friends at the time were awesome and accepting, but there was no getting around it; I was, effectively, a loser.
You May Say That I'm A Freak Show (I Don't Care)...Now
Give It Just A Little Time
Things were not much better for me in high school. I towered over the boys, for the most part, and was built very much like a fifteen year old boy...except I was a girl. Both of these things operated very much against me, and throw that in with my lack of athletic ability beyond running, my excellent grades and the fact that I played the clarinet, I was your stereotypical geek.
I was the butt of a couple of bad jokes disguised as ways for me to seem more appealing to boys, and because I really wanted to fit in, I did what my so-called friends wanted. I knew that even while people actually did like me because I was friendly and game for just about anything that came along, including situations that would put me as the butt of a joke, I wasn't comfortable. I couldn't find "my people" - people who had my back, no matter what, and who thought my terrible jokes were actually something to sort of smile at.
I know kids who feel very much like that now. You can see them through local stores, in classrooms, in restaurants - pretty much anywhere. People looking for "their people," and wondering if the day would ever come where those people would finally show up.
It does happen; the people I defined as "my people" were also people who didn't quite fit in right but were well liked nonetheless. We connected in an almost visceral way, and some of those friendships even followed me into post secondary school. Thanks to Facebook, my friends and I are able to reconnect once in a while and reminisce.
High school is probably one of the biggest pains in the butt if you think about it. Between the hormones, the drama, the trends, the competition and just the desire to be an individual while still fitting in with the group means you're basically a study in contradictions. It's bloody annoying, and then to top it off, your parents are around to remind you of just what their experiences were like growing up and telling you they expect you to be home far earlier than you feel is appropriate.
You feel like your skin is messed up, people are looking at you and you must have done a few hundred stupid things to make yourself seem even more like an oddball. High school is often believed to be this great time, but sometimes, when you're an outsider, or at least feel that you are, it gets tricky. Not only are you navigating what you perceive to be the attitudes of others - because naturally, everyone wants to be liked - you're also navigating your own self-perception, and that's painful.
But if you're lucky, if you give it a bit of time, people come around. That's the great thing about humanity; there are times when we may look at people who are different than us kind of strangely, but ultimately, we realize that they really aren't that different.
As for parents...well...give it just a little time, and they come around, too.