Your mom hates you. She says it just like that. You’re a freak. Are you retarded? Are you a boy or a girl? Pick one and stay there. So you do, and kill the power to half your soul for ten years.
Or maybe you pretend to. Then one day, you join an outdoors club and see the world as pictured above.
It changes you a little. Or a lot.
Yeah, I used the R-word earlier. If you’re called the R-word a third of your life, I think you get permission to use it.
After all, you know the damage. That’s the point.
You’re going to reclaim the word.
My advice to anyone — never disconnect from part of your soul. Never let anyone call you the R-word. Or anything.
But if they do, realize what they really mean.
They don’t understand you yet. Maybe you’re an early bloomer. So early they think you’re late.
Synonyms abound. Dumb. Stupid. Crazy. But they’re not real synonyms. Idiots and morons make a deliberate decision to ignore facts. Crazy is a word that can dismiss anyone. The people who everyone calls the R-word think differently. That’s all.
So you’re different. Weird. That’s fine. Go ahead and splatter across everyone’s little bento boxes of genders and personality disorders and disabilities and fetishes. Stop waiting around for a diagnosis, and just do what comes natural. Screw the rules.
Figure yourself out through trial and error.
(Insert legal disclaimer.)
Odds are, your so-called disability or weirdness doubles as a gift. The world just hasn’t recognized it yet. They’ll benefit from your brain work, if you play along with their silly rules. Meetings. Nine to five work culture. Performance reviews. Sales figures.
Or just really good excuses…
Or you can flout their rules. As long as you produce results. A dangerous little game. But you don’t mind a little danger. Do you?
You wish someone had told you all this growing up. But they didn’t. You had to figure it out on your own. Maybe it was better that way. Besides, you didn’t know any better than to listen to your parents.
Truth is, you were Gen Z born a decade or so too soon.
But Gen Z is here now. You’ll be okay.
Back then, all you had was your parents. So you listen to them and their shit advice. You let your teachers roll their eyes at your questions. You let them call you slow. And you let them accuse you of plagiarism, because no kid could produce work of this quality — not on their own.
You start acting the way everyone thinks you should. You dress “appropriately.” You make good grades. But sometimes you pretend not to know the answers to teachers’ questions.
Why? To fit in. Duh.
You join all the clubs. Strip off all the hobbies you enjoyed and slip into the new, approved ones.
Just like the new clothes your parents buy for you. The ones you don’t even have a say in, but pretend to anyway. You’re pretty sure that if you don’t play along, they’re going to have you put down.
In high school, you sneak out of the house and drive to the little clearing at the edge of a cemetery. That’s where the local heavy metal bands play. You don’t know if they’re any good, but they sure can scream. And that’s exactly what you need. You and a hundred others.
You want to express yourself. But you’re not going back to how things used to be. You try out for cheerleading. Or the dance team. Or volleyball. The yearbook committee. Baseball. The chess team.
Whatever it is they want.
All so your parents don’t worry about you.
Except they’re not worried about you. They’re worried about how you make them look. They make you feel guilty about every aspect of your body. Stop thinking about girls, they say. Stop touching yourself in the privacy of your own bedroom. Stop feeding yourself.
Your mom wakes you up in the middle of the night for girl talks. She’s concerned about something you said earlier that day. Did you straddle a boy at a party? She heard you talking on the phone…
Strange, your parents don’t come off as fundies. They’re not evangelists. Worse. Closet atheists. The kind of atheists that don’t want to admit it to themselves. The ones who feel guilty about skipping church. For five years. No, ten. No, twenty and some change now.
Your dad asks the family, “Should we start going?”
He says it might help. He means it might magically change you into the kind of kid he wants. Like that GIF from Cinderella. Nobody watches the original cartoon anymore. Just the transformation.
How sad are we…
Your dad is so brave. But sometimes, such a f*cking coward. He doesn’t believe in capital g-god, but won’t admit it.
Your friend tells you all about church, a place you’ve never been. You’re sixteen, and you’ve never seen the inside of a church.
Your friend has, even though she wears mini skirts and stomper boots to school. It’s fine. The principal only cares about gang attire this semester. The white girls can wear whatever they want.
But your friend tells you more. She was kicked out of church. Why? They found her CD collection in the pews and tried to perform an exorcism on it. You decide there’s no point.
You care about one thing. “Did they return your CDs?”
She smiles and nods. “Yeah, they did.”
Thank Jesus. Because you’re pretty sure the real Jesus rocks out to Trent Reznor. At least sometimes.
So your dad thinks you might need church. But if they kicked your friend out, they probably won’t even let you through the front door. Do churches have front doors? You don’t even know.
Skip ahead twenty years. You’ll meet a set of parents who talk about their sixteen-year-old son who jerks off in front of them in the den. They say, “We’re trying to set boundaries with him.”
Your parents would’ve put you up for adoption. Your mom caught you once, around midnight. She just liked to check on your once or twice a night, just to make sure you weren’t doing anything weird.
Your mom treated masturbation like a felony. Yeah, your mom — the closet atheist who hadn’t gone to church in a decade.
She freaks out and gives you a lecture. Ends it with a fake hug. But you know what she’s really thinking. After all, she gives you that weird look for the next week. The one that brushes aside your humanity.
She’s thinking: This one’s broken. Can we get another one?
Your dad even says he’s embarrassed to be seen with you sometimes. He says things like, “What kind of garbage are you listening to?” or “What kind of garbage are you drawing up there?” Or things like, “What kind of garbage are you wearing? We just bought you new clothes...”
So thoughtful. He’s taking an interest in his daughter/pet human/plant/whatever the hell you are.
This is why so many people choose the path of least resistance. Why they settle for a mediocre life. Why they just get by.
They’re not lazy. They don’t lack willpower. They just can’t afford to express themselves. Too many people pissed on them.
But some of us surprise. We can turn piss into lemonade.
They can finally admit that they like guys and girls, but sometimes they prefer solo sex…Because they like their bodies.
And sometimes they don’t even want sex at all.
Like, for months…
People have no idea what to do with us. Our personalities, our identities, our sexualities. Are we autistic, a psychopath, or just some cold manipulative bitch? Can we just be consistent?
Sort of. We can be consistent with what we want. We can try to match it up with what you want. We can try to compromise.
But we can’t be your dream girl. Or guy. Nobody can do that except maybe your dreams. Even they might get tired…
Eventually, you start to toughen up. You assert yourself. Does wonders for your creativity. Despite the danger.
You catch yourself sulking. Even in your 20s. You think to yourself, “My parents never let me do a study abroad.”
Your new self says, what? You’re a grown ass girl. You’ve got a bank account and a credit card. Go abroad.
So you do. It’s f*cking awful. And also fantastic.
You find yourself sulking again. The remnants of your self say, “I’ll never be stable enough to get married and have kids.”
But you do it anyway. You do it your way. You stop letting your past control your future. You just don’t have a choice.
Breaking rules comes with a little stress. You’re willing. You knew what you were getting yourself into. Even in middle school people judge you for the way you dress. You consider changing.
You decide to keep doing what feels right. Even if people call you names in the hallway. Eventually, things work out.
Suddenly, your style becomes cool.
Somehow you become popular. You become someone everyone looks up to, secretly wants to be. How did that happen?
You’ve made a choice. You’d rather be called names than conform to a life that doesn’t fit. You will never fit. Trying just makes you miserable and saps your energy. Embrace your misfit personality.
Your quirks can be your salvation.