Yes. You, there reading this. Can I have a minute of your time? Ok. Maybe a few minutes really.
I want to thank you for your time. We all have busy schedules so I understand that this time of yours is important. However, what I have to say is important. BE YOURSELF! There I said it… but there is more.
Life is hard. Very hard. And the people we encounter in our lives change and shape how we look at the world. Em’s world is a difficult world. She’s a free spirit who struggles to conform to worldly standards. I wouldn’t want her too. She’s got the most supporting cast to help her and the “outsiders looking in” who don’t want to see the world through her eyes.
You see, she already knows that she struggles socially. If you ask her about her social skills, she hangs her head and sighs. If you push her and ask her how well her social skills are, she’s going to tell you that they are poor. She struggles to make and keep friends. She feels so alone. And she feels that deeply. It’s something that bothers her. One of her biggest fears is being alone.
She sits at lunch with girls who “get her” but outside school, there are few that reach out to her. She notices. It bothers her. But she does her best to move forward. Those girls make her laugh and enjoy school for the most part. But she still is lonely. One moment of laughter though, gives her hope. She wants friendships that extend past school lunches and laughter and jokes in the halls. She is getting there though. Slowly.
And then there are the outsiders. For lack of a better term. They see her talking to the school snake or turtles and feel it’s worth making jokes about it. Em then is hurt. Of course she is. She talks to animals, like Dr. Doolittle. They don’t judge her. They listen to her. She seems to get them. She talks to our cats. She talks to the dog next door. She talks to snakes and reptiles. She talks to fish. She talks to anything that has a heartbeat and moves. Even if it’s to tell the spiders and bugs, “EWWWW GO AWAY!”
I talk to our pets. My husband and son talk to our pets. Our friends talk to their pets. I don’t think I don’t know anyone who doesn’t talk to pets. Em just takes it one step further. I loved taking her to the zoo when she was very young. She would talk to the giraffe and the penguins. She’d yell to the moose and the lions. She would coo to the birds and wild cats. She’s get animated and talk to the otters playing and prairie dogs jumping. She had her own language but it was amazing to see her WANT to communicate. And in her way, she did.
People. That’s where she struggles. There are social norms and expectations. Rules that she struggles to make sense of. She is learning. She’s is almost fourteen and has only grasped sarcasm in the last two years. She feels out of place and different and when people “joke” about talking to animals, she feels that pain deeply. It’s her world. It’s been her safe place to confide in. That leads to her questioning if that’s acceptable behavior ~ to talk to animals.
Outsiders, please, think about if your world was a bubble. Imagine it being a bubble that you are safe and content in. One in which you have your own way of doing things. We all do. Imagine if someone made jokes about something you thought was OK and now you are questioning if it’s not. Take how you brush your hair or teeth for instance, or how you fold your clothes. There isn’t a right or wrong. Just how you do it versus someone else does.
Em needs people to embrace her as she is. Not people to make her feel less. Em needs people to see her spunky and quirky spirit and know that it’s OK to be who they are too. You see, Em is a what you see is what you get kind of girl. Some of you on the outside, struggle with the notion of being who you are out of fear of rejection. Em is no less different. She just doesn’t know how to be anyone else. Nor would I want her to be.
Which brings us back to what I said in the very beginning, be yourself. If you are true to yourself and your “friends” can’t accept you as you are, they aren’t worth your time. Learn to love who you are and don’t be ashamed of being different. If you don’t, how do you expect anyone else too?
That’s all. As you gain experience in life, there will be an AHA moment where this… all of this… will make sense and you’ll be wiser if you already have pushed aside being someone else for the sake of “friends”. You’ll also be happier.
I’m off to go have a conversation with a four legged furry creature who woke me up with some purrs and is meowing at me quite intent on having my attention.