The aboriginal day of kindergarten was show-and-tell day at Blossomwood Elementary school, a array of “get to apperceive your class” activity. Letters went home to parents, and kids alternate to academy accustomed the best alluring things.
Turtles, aged bee hives, summer affected T-shirts — every adolescent had an article and every article had a story.
That is, until a brown-eyed babe marched up to the advanced of the classroom empty-handed. The abecedary seemed unsure, but the adolescent smiled with excitement, so she shooed her along. Little anxiety stomped up adhesive block stairs to the centermost of the makeshift stage. She angry to face the classroom.
And that is aback 5-year-old Mary Katherine pulled her easily out of her pockets and acicular beeline bottomward at her girly-bits.
“Theeeeeeeese are my clandestine parts!”
(Then, pointing to the class)
“Yooooooou cannot blow them!”
(Hands now on hips)
“If you do, I will scream. And again I will punch 9-1-1. Thank you.”
And with a curtsy, I hopped off the date and headed aback to my desk, bright with satisfaction.
The abecedary handled things well, all things considered. After clearing the classroom, she headed to the appointment and alleged my mother, laughing.
“Let’s aloof say MK is not like her sister. She’s definitely…different.”
Different. A characterization that ashore for the abutting 25 years.
In kindergarten, I didn’t apperception it so much. All a kid absolutely cares about is pizza and playgrounds at that age. But sometime, appropriate about sixth grade, that characterization started to hurt. I didn’t appetite to be different. I capital to accept agleam hair, an LL Bean jacket, and Express flare-cut jeans. I capital to attending and act like the accepted girls in the school.
I capital to alloy in. To fit in.
Because by the accomplished age of 12, I had already apparent that sometimes actuality a standout agency actuality a stand-alone.
And continuing abandoned can get appealing lonely.
Well, my ancestors couldn’t allow name-brand clothes. So off to academy I went, cutting action boots and hand-me-downs. I absolved through those bifold doors, whispering my mantra to the universe:
“Different is cool. Altered is cool. Altered is cool.”
A few years later, I apparent pom poms and popularity. I adopted adorned clothes, formed my hair, and anointed powder-blue architecture on my eyelids. I was voted “Best Dressed.” I got myself a boyfriend. And at the acme of it all, I managed to nab a advance role in the aerial academy play.
Every night afore the curtains rose, I was sick. My abdomen askance up, and I aloof kept thinking, “Nobody is activity to buy this. I’m not this role. I’m not this person.”
But anniversary night, I managed to get through it. Delivering the appropriate lines. Feigning the appropriate emotions.
Applause, curtains, rehearsal, repeat.
When the comedy was assuredly over, I was so relieved. So I resumed my accustomed life.
Applause, curtains, rehearsal, repeat.
Even admitting the comedy was over, my appearance still had to go on. I coiled my hair, affective my pom poms, and took on the role I had been assigned. I was cool. I was popular.
I was miserable.
Let me acquaint you, friends, that’s no way to live.
But how abounding of us accept ashen absolute seasons of our activity walking in the shoes of a stranger? Scared to be ourselves for abhorrence of actuality isolated?
It’s accurate that continuing out can beggarly continuing alone. But aback it comes bottomward to it, is there annihilation lonelier than actuality a drifter to oneself?
Let me acknowledgment that from experience: No!
I assuredly abdicate my career as an actress. It aloof didn’t clothing me. Not as a person, and added importantly, not as a parent.
You see, I appetite my accouchement to apperceive it is accept to be a stand-alone. That its accept to let their aberration banderole fly.
I appetite my kids to be one in a million, not allotment of the crowd.
I appetite them to barge on to the makeshift date of activity with aplomb and advertise to the apple that altered is awesome.
And maybe parents will talk. And maybe the agents will stare.
But I’ll smile, pat their little butts, and whisper:
“It’s accept if they stare, baby. That agency they are watching.”