Yesterday I went for dinner with my mom and a member of the family came up in conversation. Well, she’s not actually related to me but our families are close and I call her parents aunt and uncle. Gracie is in grade 6 and she is throwing up all the time and getting anxiety.
It reminded me of my grade 6. Grade school really sucked. I didn’t really have friends, and I was weird. I got a copy of Photoshop when I was 11 from my cousin. That’s what I was into, graphic design and typography and vector artwork. I joined online communities where I learned from designers the principals of Photoshop, basic layouts, and general design. They didn’t know I was 12. It suited me. Then I moved on to independent bands and music. I remember finding the Tokyo Police Club when I was in grade 7. We had to write an essay on our favourite song and present it to class. I ended up writing about some stupid song by Green Day because I didn’t want to be ridiculed. I remember someone in that awful clique in grade school telling me that I ran like a loser and I was really ugly. I remember writing about it and then a “friend” finding the rants and showing the people they were about. It was awful.
Naturally I wasn’t popular in grade school. I remember teachers trying unsuccessfully to “challenge” me because I was bored in school. I remember nasty cliques where my “best friend” just kept telling me to fit in and wear the right clothes and I hated it. I remember my teachers telling me to “act like a kid” which was just another way of telling me to fit in. High school was the same way; I cared too much about making other people happy or what they thought of me and it was ultimately detrimental. It hasn’t been until the past year or so that I’ve made friends with common interests who I really get along with.
If I could give advice to Gracie, who is tomboyish and interested in animals or whatever, or if I could give advice to my 13-year-old self, I would tell them not to care about what other people think.
Because I think that is the best thing that I’ve done for myself in the past year. I wish someone would have told me to just give up on trying to dress a certain way and act a certain and do what I want. I was bad at faking it anyways. And I know, “it’s easier said than done,” right? But I’m not talking in a don’t-care-because-one-day-these-people-will-work-for-you sort of way. I wish someone would have told me that there are other people like me. That I’m not the only “weird” one out there, and that it’s not other people’s fault that they don’t get you, or understand what you’re into. I would have told myself to do what you really love and want and stop focusing on everything else. Because in the end, it really doesn’t matter what people think of you if you’re unhappy. And people come around eventually, and until then you’ll probably be happier without nasty grade school kids.
Someone the other day said I reminded them of Tavi Gevinson, of Rookie fame.* It was such a compliment, to be compared to brave Tavi, who dresses eccentrically and writes eloquently about her experiences of growing up and style and everything else. I think what makes me happy is that I’m slowly becoming the person that I’d like to be. I’m trying to mould myself into someone I’d want to read about. I’m slowly making these changes and I still have good days and bad days but I am happy.
I hope Gracie makes it out alright. I’m sure she will; she’s resilient. Maybe I was, too.
*I totally read Rookie religiously. The articles are awesome. No regrets!