This weekend, on International Women’s Day, my writing group held a link-up where fifty-plus women looked back on their childhoods, their first memories, their earliest dreams and called out to their old selves. It’s really beautiful. I wanted to join in, but it just was a little too much for me.
To be honest, my writing group is often a little much for me. Too many feelings and so much pain. A virtual room full of beautiful, tragic, sometimes funny redemption stories. I love it, and it helps me grow, but every now and then I’m just not sure what to do with the whole thing. I don’t like to clap in church, I don’t really love parties, sometimes too many people with too many feelings all talking at once makes me get clammy and my mouth has too many words all running into it at once but I somehow don’t have anything to say. I try to keep up, to say something so I’m not just standing silently in the crowd, but those words feel false. My people deserve better.
So I’m going to just tell it to you straight – that’s the kind of writing I do anyway. I don’t have a sad story to share. I honestly like myself now way more than I ever did as a kid. My parents worked really hard to encourage me to do just about anything I wanted to while the rest of the world pushed in the other direction. I spent too many years ignoring my parents and covering up everything awesome about myself to fit in. The thing about having musicians or artists or science fiction fans for parents is that they really love it when their kids are super weird. I just wanted to be normal.
So I only raised my hand when no one else knew the answer, and I hid myself in books so I wouldn’t have to deal with how hard it was to make friends when everyone was talking about how hard those math problems were. In college I stopped reading for class altogether to cope because when I got too invested in my courses I talked too much, participated too ferociously, and couldn’t pull off small talk about how “hard” or “boring” such-and-such was. I poured my enthusiasm for learning and leading into my sorority instead of my studies because even my professors would quietly remind me that if I spoke up too often, no one else would try.
Now that I’m not the little girl I once was, I know that this world doesn’t need anyone to pretend to be less smart or less passionate than they actually are. While my writing group has shared poetry and photography and beautiful memories on International Women’s Day 2014, I have one sentence to reclaim only two days too late: Being weird is awesome. It’s totally okay to enjoy reading a book more than small talk. It’s really quite fine to hate playing softball. Women who are serious, who are better at leading a meeting or planning an event than wearing four-inch heels and giggling, they aren’t boring — they’re going to change this world.
Please join me in saluting the beautiful women of my writing group, whose words are available for you over at THE GIRLS WE ONCE WERE link-up. I know you’ll be just as impressed as I am.