I received an email last night that made me want to throw my phone out the window. If there is one thing I really, truly hate, it's being inauthentic. It's curating situations to make myself seem cooler than I am. I'm not cool. I'm the opposite of cool, I'm a weirdo. And that's how I like it. Life's much more exciting when you're a weirdo. But back to the email, a Mom emailed me because she's worried about her daughter. Her daughter sounded like a very normal teenager who just wants to be popular. This Mom was is worried that her daughter was trying to grow up to fast and that she was hanging out with the wrong crowd to fit in. She asked me what I was like in High School and I thought, well, unfortunately I have always loved being a weirdo.
I figured out early on that humor had great power and I that I wasn’t comfortable around the popular kids in school. I didn't have a ton of money and I didn't like how everything was materialistic or had to do with boyfriends and booze. I didn’t like the way that other kids at school talked about them, and I guess I didn’t want to be a grown up as badly as they did. I was very happy being a kid. I also had a confidence that a lot of kids don’t. I was OK being a loner when I started a new school and was trying to find my group. (Insert Katy Perry lyric here: Do you ever feel, like a plastic bag.) I didn't want to hang out with people who made me feel, well, not like me. I struggled with everything else kids struggle with, don’t get me wrong, but I woke up every day with the sole intention to have fun. I wanted to go to the tide pools, slide down a hill in a box, hike, or find people to laugh with. When I ditched school it was to go to Disneyland or the Zoo, not go to someone's house to drink alcohol or experiment with drugs.
I guess I realized that everyone was trying to be something they weren't and that made me uncomfortable. If you’re worried about your friends liking you, they aren’t your friends. Now I really like being liked. I still feel uncomfortable in my own skin but that’s never going to go away, it happens from time to time over the years. My advice to anyone who just wants to fit in or be popular is to find something that truly makes you happy and then throw yourself into it. There was a period of time in High School where I couldn’t find a group of friends I felt familiar with. I didn’t like the people I hung out with and I didn’t feel like myself. Then I found the theater and my group clicked. I didn’t have to try in front of them because they didn’t care. We all just wanted to go on adventures and make each other laugh. No one cared about what labels we were wearing, what car we drove, how dysfunctional our families were, or being “cool.” We all just genuinely cared about each other.
Surround yourself with like minded people and be weirdos together. Please don't grow up too fast. Your only job is to get good grades (or at least find something at school you care about) and be a kid. It's 100% possible to be a responsible adult without "growing up." Look at everyone at Pixar! They are proof that magic lives when you don't lose your wonder. Never, never, never lose that creative questioning spark. Watch kids, they look at the world with wonder. They ask “What’s that?” and “Why?” The second you think you have everything figured out, you’re doomed. Surround yourself with people you actually like and take a step back from anyone you don’t feel authentic around. You don't have to eliminate anyone, or tell anyone you are eliminating them, just step away. People change, who knows what someone will be like in a year or two. Just don't reach out to them! It's simple.
Look, I don’t have all the answers. I wish I did. All I know is I've tried to fit in. When I tried to fit in, I didn’t feel like myself. So I said no thanks to trying to be something I wasn't and that's when I found a group I fit in with. Embrace your oddness and your inner weirdo. That is what makes you, you. Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.