My whole life I’ve been the chubby kid. The kid whose gray sweatpants fit a little too tight and my third generation hand-me-down sweater had a few too many drops of spaghetti sauce on it.
I never minded how my clothes looked and that my hair stuck straight out at all angles.
Apart from being an obvious dynamo with the female species, a lot of my self-worth was derived from this period of my life that can be referred to as the “blunder years.”
To put it simply, I grew up weird. I picked my nose, had braces, was an avid member of my middle school chess club and a large majority of my friends were gnomes and night elves on World of Warcraft.
I had a problem fitting in, which caused the other kids to avoid me. The friends I did have were weird themselves, so at least there was company in the misery.
Now, I know that there was anything wrong with me. That was my opinion though. Everyone else also seemed to have their own opinion of me.
I had to develop a pretty thick skin to get through middle school.
The sharp tongues of a prominent pre-pubescent, middle school clique still haunt me today.
Thinking of those days makes me think “Was it even worth it?” Was it worth the poor fashion sense, generally antisocial behavior and particularly cringworthy behavior? Oddly enough it was and I would do it again. People never really wanted to hang out or be good friends with the aforementioned gentleman, so I was almost forced to stay to myself.
Back then, I saw this as dire and depressing but turned out to be almost a blessing in disguise. The time I would have spent trying to fit in, I spent accepting I was already an outsider, so I might as well make the best of it.
I read a different book every week about lands far away from here. About kings who used wit to rule lands. I wrote my own short stories about fictional characters that possessed qualities I thought real heroes should have.
I thought of my mind as an asset, and made sure it was always what kept me standing out from the pack.
Teens always say they want to rebel against conformity, but conform with the other teens all the same. Those who are not square pegs going through square holes come last and aren’t on the same level as all of the other square pegs. Well, the square pegs were dull.
They wore the same clothes, talked about the same things and rejected anyone who strayed from their golden path.
Anyone who has ever tried to fit a circle peg through a square hole knows you’re going to run into a lot of problems, so why even try?
A part of growing up weird was knowing that I was different. I looked different, acted different and was constantly reminded that I was anything but a square peg. I started to take pride in it. I developed my self-deprecating sense of humor because I had heard them say it enough about me, so why not own it?
I began to learn who I was very quick. Sooner or later you stop trying to fit yourself through that square hole and realize the whole fitting in thing is kind of monotonous anyways. When does that cycle stop? If you base your whole personality off of fitting in, are you an individual?
Becoming self-aware is tough for a lot of teenagers because they put the crowd’s needs before theirs. Instead of searching inside of themselves and learning more about themselves, they put their time and effort into acting like the other kids so no one will ever call them out for being different. Because different is death in grade school, right?
Take the time to learn about yourself. Search within and find your true personality and who you actually are instead of being a one-way mirror to society.
This one goes out to all of my rejects, my outcasts and my oddballs. It goes out to the misunderstood and the different shapes trying to fit themselves through square holes. Stay weird.
Column by Zac Garrison, Senior from Franklin, Ky.