First: Watch this
I was a strange kid. That is an affliction most writers have, isn’t it? That’s why we stop telling stories out loud and instead put them on paper. You’re weird if you are talking about fictional characters but writing about them is totally okay.
Anyway, I was strange. I was socially awkward. I was smart-school always came easy to me-but I didn’t interact well with other people. I never really learned and the older I’ve gotten the less I’ve cared to learn. To my own detriment, I know.
I had my best friend from kindergarten until fifth grade when she got pretty and I was still homely and she wanted nothing to do with me. Then I had a best friend from 7th grade until 10th grade when we had a falling out. My fault, I will admit. I still miss him sometimes.
I haven’t had a best friend since. Not unless you count my sister.
Sam thinks I’m weird because of this. Maybe I am. But I’m rambling…
The point is, I have spent the majority of my life in my head. The friends I had I only had during the school year.During the summer I was on my own again.
I spent-and still spend-days in bed with a book. The characters I could understand. The characters reached out from their pages and whispered “you’re okay” They still do. I still need that. When a person tells you you are going to be okay I can’t help but feel they are lying. Sometimes to make you feel better-mostly to make themselves feel like they were helpful so they can go about their lives. I don’t blame them, but I don’t trust it either.
That’s part of the socially awkward thing.
When a character in a book tells you that you aren’t so strange it’s not out of pity. It’s not an attempt to brush your feelings under the rug so you can go back to talking about them.
When a character reaches out and tells you that they love you and you’re not so weird…it’s different. It’s never literal, obviously. No character is breaking the fourth wall to turn and look at you and say “you’re all right kid” It’s more that you find yourselves in the characters that you read.
I found the Amanda Palmer video on Facebook. She did a concert series “An Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer” a while back and now they are releasing the documentary. She posted the first part of the documentary and that was near the end of the 11 minutes. If you are interested in watching it, you can find it here
I found myself tearing up, ridiculously, because I understood. Because I had the Judy Blume books. I had the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and the Boxcar Children. I loved the Boxcar Children. I would spend days laying on my floor and reading those books.
Later I had Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl.
Which is why I wanted to share the song.
Because I was reminded for a few minutes of being the scared, socially awkward, teased little girl sitting on the wall with a book. Because characters were always nicer to me than people.
I’m still that scared, socially awkward little girl. I’m just packaged in big girl clothing now. I still don’t know what to say to people when I meet them or even until I’ve met them a few times. I’m still awkward for the first few hours to about a day when Sam’s dad stays with us and he and I have been together 3 years.
When whoever I was talking with leaves, I rapidly become convinced until I see them again that they wanted nothing to do with me. They were being polite. I dissect every single facial expression and turn of phrase to justify my insecurities. It drives Sam-who is self-confident in everything he does-insane.
But despite everything, I still have my shelves and shelves of books. I still have my shelves and boxes of characters who love me just for opening the pages and spending some time with them. They don’t judge or criticize. They don’t try to fix me. They are off having their own adventures and are happy to have me along.
Words are important. They have power just in being written or said or even read. I think that is why so many people crave to be writers and identify themselves as such even if they haven’t written a word in years. Because all of us need those characters. All of us need someone-fictional or otherwise-to sit with us and accept us when we can’t find the strength to accept ourselves. Sometimes that character is one we create ourselves.’
You are not weird. You are not ugly. You are not useless. You have purpose. You define who you are. You define your worth. Not the media, not your parents or your boyfriend or your friends. You. Anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t seeing you clearly.