“To make the individual uncomfortable, that is my task”.
Friedrich Nietzsche’s words ring true for me in my 21 years in life so far. I have never been “normal”. This has been pointed out to me on many occasions. Today, I find it to be a blessing but this wasn’t exactly the case in years past.
Growing up, I was the youngest of three children in a lower middle class family in Michigan. My father worked days in an office and nights in a manufacturing factory while my mother worked as a paraprofessional in a local school. Pretty run of the mill stuff here, but for some reason I never really fit in. Sure, I would try to do the things my friends would do, read the books they would read (until reading became the “lame” thing to do… aka Middle School), wore the clothes they would wear, and so on. Due to lack of funding and lack of “popular” friends, I never really got a foot in to the cool crowd. Of course during these fundamental development years I had to be cursed with a mouthful of braces, eyeglasses that never seemed to sit even on my face, lack of coordination and no real talent in sports or music.
I had to make my own clothes….it’s “hip” or “indie” to do that now. Today those same clothes that I would constantly be picked on for are popular and being sold for $45.99 at Gap and American Eagle. I would stay in and read on Friday nights when I wasn’t helping with the local art museum’s children’s art night. I helped build this program from the beginning and now it flourishes in the community. I wouldn’t sit and let people be treated unfairly. I stood up for those who fell victim to the same taunting I did when I gave a cat’s foot about what the “cool” kids thought of me.
I guess looking back at it all, I realize that at a young age I decided that I wouldn’t fall victim to the peer pressure of our society. Not because it was easier, because that is furthest from the truth. It was because I couldn’t breathe in such a stereotypical mold that was set out in front of my peers and me. I went on to college to work towards my degree in Art Education. I want to help children explore their own creative souls.
One warm August afternoon after I moved I got a call from my mother. My grandmother had passed away after a long and brave battle with ovarian cancer. While surrounded by family and friends, my grandfather opened a box that my grandmother had put little things in that she wanted to pass on to her children and grandchildren. My grandfather handed me an envelope with a sketch of a ballerina tending to her over-used and rough feet. My grandmother had been part of a small ballet troupe in Denmark. On the back of the small sketch, she had written me a note that would wash away any sort of doubt I had about the person I was becoming.
“Embrace your difference and the world will do the same.
I believe in myself.
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