When I was in grade 4 I thought it would be so amazing to have braces. I longed for the secret identity I thought glasses would provide. I yearned for a unique trait that would separate me from the norm. I wanted a conversation starter, a hook, a gimmick. A limp, lisp or dark secret past. Heck, even my daily bruises developed elaborate stories. I’d detail the fictional fun to make myself seem more interesting than (I thought) I was. I have always wanted to be just left of the middle…well, honestly, deep left field. I’ve always wanted to be different.
I grew up a middle class girl in the middle of Ontario during the mid-90’s. That’s all smack bang in the middle. And the middle is very different from the centre of attention. I was born in the 80’s but my serious memories were made in the midst of Smashed Pumpkins and grunge-y Shangri-la. But as far as I could tell I was just one more of the faceless masses with pre-teenage spirit. I found myself jockeying for position within systems that didn’t celebrate our differences. Sadly, most systems are finite, not interpretative. Systems are by nature are, well, systematic. Empathy, consideration and individuality isn’t part of the equation. I looked throughout middle school, but I couldn’t find my defining feature, no matter how elaborate my exterior got. I was just another little girl in a school of little girls. And, I wasn’t happy with that to say the least.
I am not sure if I was born wanting to be different or if I grew into it, but I’ve never liked the status quo. When my wish for braces came true at 16, it only stopped me from smiling. When I wear sunglasses to protect my sensitive eyes, I lose them and can’t imagine the cost, were they prescriptions. I still suffer from exaggerated bumps and bruises, though I allow their cause to remain mundane and preventable. As for the lisp I lusted after…I’ll admit that sometimes I spit when I talk. But all these minor first world problems don’t define who I am and the sad thing is: I didn’t realize that I’ve been unique this whole time. The mere act of wanting to be different makes me so. I am not interchangeable in a row of blondes. I stand out naturally…er at least my fake peg leg limps out.