There’s a quote that goes like this:
“I used to think it might be fun to be
Anyone else but me
I thought that it would be a pleasant surprise
To wake up as a couple of other guys
But now that I’ve found you
I’ve changed my point of view
And now I wouldn’t give a dime to be
Anyone else but me”
From a duet between Bill Evans and Tony Bennett (two of my faves, I’ll add), I used to think this song was about finding love in another person. I interpreted this song as any other romantic jazz tune — feeling only a sliver of oneself until a perfect other comes along that makes them feel complete. As I’ve grown and evolved and changed, I began to see this song in a different light: I find it represents finding confidence and self-compassion, and in that, realizing I am “Lucky to be Me.” It’s about finding yourself and being happy with exactly who you are.
Like many others, I have been bullied my entire life. In elementary school, I would come home and cry and cry and cry until my eyes were red and tired because I just never fit anywhere. I remember being cornered in the bathroom while girls called me a “nutcase,” or made fun of my copy of Moby Dick and my knockoff Birkenstocks that my mom and I picked out at Payless. I loved my new shoes and I loved Herman Melville, and I loved this fantasy that someday I would be surrounded by adults who didn’t care where my shoes came from and would have deep, thoughtful conversations about the same things I liked.
I was the kid who got the pity invite to birthday parties because other girls’ moms made them. I was the kid who found solace in homework and reading and fishing with my dad. Those were places where I didn’t have to worry about what I looked like or what anybody thought.
In the sixth grade, my parents took my sister and I to a seafood restaurant. “We have big news,” my mom said. When I found out that we were moving to Phoenix from Detroit, I was elated and relieved. No more bullies, I thought to myself. My little sister (a bit more fortunate than me when it came to social skills) cried into her calamari and french fries.
I was bullied a lot less in the remainder of my middle school years in Phoenix (aside from a rumor that I was gay, but, hey, it wasn’t untrue), but I wanted to “reinvent” myself in a new city. I wanted to be myself and be cool and well-liked, and that flopped pretty badly. I discovered this acidic feeling that was building pressure in my throat and burned all throughout my body: I began to truly loathe myself.
I tried on a lot of different hats in high school: I had caught the tail-end of the era of the scene phase (which is thankfully nowhere to be found on the internet anymore), I dabbled in a slew of other styles following that, but I eventually settled into what I would argue is how I dress now: thrifted vintage finds that I style in my own way. It felt amazing to have autonomy over my self-presentation, and that extended to coming out as queer. I found trouble there again.
I can still remember food getting thrown at me across the cafeteria while people yelled “dyke” and a slew of other unkind words. I asked them to stop, and they wouldn’t. All because I was holding hands with another girl.
I can’t begin to tell you the feeling of isolation and loneliness I had that day. And the next day. And, honestly, sometimes nowadays.
“I thought you were more normal than that,” someone said to me after school once.
I started going out with a boy instead. I just wanted it to stop.
College was a whole other level. Once, I remember all the girls in my dorm were dressed up to go out together and I wasn’t invited. They asked me to come into the hallway and I was so excited. I thought they were going to invite me to come along. They asked me to take their group picture.
However, later that year I started blogging. I began to take all the writing and creativity that I usually reserved for late nights on Tumblr or talking with internet friends (an escape for me) and I put it all in one place. I started to feel confident because I would share my outfits and writing online and I was met with so much kindness and support from people who I felt were just like me — people who just didn’t seem to fit anywhere, and we all fit together, despite them being far away.
I just kept growing and growing, and I was in a loving relationship where I learned how to respect myself for exactly who I am. I made new friends and kept my old ones who were always there in every phase of myself and truly loved me for every single step of the way.
And I stand here now, still met with the same realities a lot of us face: homophobia, exclusion, rumors, and the general feeling of being out of place. But one thing is different: I am unbreakable.
I am happy with exactly who I am, from the way I look, to my morals, where I come from, my sexuality and gender identity. I love the slight lisp that I have from my fake front tooth that replaced the one the bullies knocked out. I love my big eyebrows and my weird interests and the fact that I tend to overshare my feelings with others. I love that I repeat the same stories by accident and I didn’t get over my fear of the dark until age 22 (still working on it, honestly).
I’m sharing this now because I know there’s another kid out there, clad in off-brand Birkenstocks and wire-frame glasses, that is looking in the mirror and wondering why they don’t belong. And everything I do is for that kid. Sometimes I’m still that kid.
“Oh, I could laugh out loud,
I’m so lucky to be me.”
Until next post. xx