slightly off center

I’m sporadic – among other things, I know. One of my close friends recently called me ‘slightly off center’ and I thought, yea that’s it, I like that label.

So many people struggle with acting normal, feeling normal, looking normal and fitting in. Well I’ve never fit in and wondered for many years what was wrong with me, but I mostly love being off center now. I love my quirky nature and I am happy I turned out the way I did. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I still get pangs of worry over it but it doesn’t last nearly as long.

Perhaps I’m comic relief for all those who desperately want let loose but can’t imagine being the one people are commenting on or making fun of. I think I’m finally okay with that and I’m proud of my abilities and insights. There are lot’s of reasons I’m slightly off center, but one memory continues to remind me to look deeper when I begin to feel badly about myself or someone thinks I’ve done something wrong and I am puzzled and confused by it.

It happened when I was about eight years old. A neighbor-friend from across the street came down my driveway to play. She was one who always followed the crowd, never ‘stuck out’ like me. That day in the driveway I imagine we were planning what we would do next. We talked for a few minutes when all of a sudden she stepped back and mockingly repeated a word I had used. It was a word within my vocabulary and one which was used often in my home, but she apparently didn’t know the meaning. She made fun of me mercilessly for trying to “act smart” by using such big words and who did I think I was, trying to impress her and I didn’t even know the meaning of the word, etc.. Then, just as quickly she turned on her heels and marched back up my driveway. I was dumbfounded. In my mind, it had been a normal conversation. All the words were swimming in my head and I felt awful and stupid and bad. I remember thinking I wasn’t trying to look or act smart – I was just talking.  But that day I decided I would never use big words again. Over the next ten years I judiciously worked to use ‘small’ words all the while believing I was seriously the stupidest kid on the planet. During all those primary and secondary school years with her I cemented a self view of stupidity and awkwardness around peers. And that stuck with me for many more years to come.

It took me a long time to figure out that I was not the stupid one in that equation so many years ago. But it affected me in a way that I am grateful for. I see the underdog more often because of that incident and I try to remember to look for other explanations to things that don’t make sense to me on first blush. I still get hurt feelings (more often than I care to admit), but I work very hard to push through and try to see the reason for whatever does not seem right.

And it’s a cautionary tale for parents. It’s so easy to put a negative view into a kids head and incredibly difficult to CHANGE that view.

So now, all these years later, I think slightly off center is a pretty good label. I think deeply, I love passionately, and I remain open and vulnerable on purpose. I want to experience all there is to experience. So if you too think I’m slightly off center I am very happy.  How about you? Do you feel slightly off center too? Maybe we can form a club or something hahaha. Have a great Friday!

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