It is nearly 2:00AM where I sit right now, and I should be tired. But I am not. I have too many thoughts, too much music in my head right now to sleep. And not just actual songs–though those are certainly present: one lyric after another streaming through, one bass line overlapping another, drums and drums and drums–but also the music of the rain, the music of my dog’s slow breathing next to me, the music of my the computer keys under my rapidly moving fingers. It’s so mesmerizingly distracting.
For the record, I am not on drugs.
I have had this one line running on loop in my mind for a few weeks now, and I have to share the series of emotions and thought bubbles it has inspired. No one who has read this blog before will be surprised that the line is from a 30 Seconds To Mars song, A Beautiful Lie:
“Lie awake in bed at night, and think about your life. Do you want to be different?”
My response to that question is a loud and resounding YES.
YES, I do want to be different. In so many ways that I can’t even bear it sometimes.
The first way in which I wish to be different is that I do not want to be an asshole. Is that crude? I’m sorry. But, frankly, I am disheartened by the number of just unfriendly human beings I encounter on a daily basis. I am always pleasantly surprised to encounter kind, sociable people, but I shouldn’t be. Kind and sociable should be the norm. I should not be taken aback when someone holds open a door for me, or smiles at me as we cross paths when I’m out walking my dog, but I am. I am always dumbfounded when I meet other nice people, because it doesn’t happen enough.
That. Is Tragic.
So, yes, I wish to be different and be (pardon me while I utilize an old church analogy) a light for the world rather than a black hole sucking the light from the sky. I try to smile at everyone I can, from the grumpy teller at the bank, to people who pull up next to me at red lights. I try to make someone laugh every day because A) laughter is a cure all for them and B) for me, making others laugh is the greatest feeling in the whole wide world. I want to be one of those people that you meet and in a seconds-long encounter, your day is changed for the better. It depresses me to think that I have ever made anyone sad–and I know I have in the past, and I am sorry–but I hope from here on to only (or at least, mostly) bring happiness. I owe that much to the other nice people in the world: a little reciprocity.
But I am also a conceited little fuck and want to be different for the sake of…not being like anyone else.
If my parents got one thing right with me, it is my name. I LOVE the name Pamela. Spot on, ‘rents, spot on. I mostly loved that name as a child because no one else my age had it. There were a handful of Amandas, a couple Nicoles, plenty of Jessicas, but just one Pamela, and that ROCKED. I never appreciated the existence of Pamela Anderson in the world, particularly when my 3rd grade teacher made that my nickname, but for the most part I enjoyed my unique title. I wasn’t always so down with being different, but sometimes, your soul just takes over and originality happens.
I also learned from an early age that scars are cool. I have over 80 scars on my body, and while I don’t remember where all of them came from, I do have a story for most of them: the dime-sized spot on my forearm is where my dad’s parrot took a chunk out of me for no reason except it is the devil; the raised purple knob on my knee is where a piece of my high school track is still embedded from falling flat on my face during my first ever track meet; the long thin line on my toe is where a screw wedged itself once; the spot next to my right eye is where my mom cut me with a poorly sharpened eyeliner pencil while getting me ready for my dance recital as a tot. I adore each and every one of my scars because they are proof of the life I have lived. Even the crack in my skull, the one that you can follow with your finger from my hairline down to my eyebrow, is a wonderful part of me that I embrace, for had I no scars, that would have meant I have lived a safe (and utterly BORING) life. Each time I fell off my bike, that was a life experience I wouldn’t give up for anything. Each time my brother pinched me with his dirty little fingernails causing tiny infections all over my arms and eventually leaving a dozen little pockmarks, those were…well, not great experiences, but they shaped me. All my “flaws” are evidence of the life I’ve lived up until now, a life that is all mine, not yours.
Over the years, learning to appreciate what makes me different has led me to yearn for even more originality. I don’t want to be like anyone else but me, thanks. When people say, “You know who you remind me of?” my heart sinks a little, because I only want to remind you of Pamela Wall. I want to be so badly one of those people with a certain je ne sais quoi. I have an asymmetrical face, crooked ears, an annoying voice, and enormous and intrusive hand gestures: you should remember me, goddammit. I am flattered when people tell me I look like Chyler Leigh but I don’t see it, and I don’t want to see it: she is a perfect china doll, and I only wish to be imperfect, lopsided, lovable me. Is that so much to ask?
I am always looking for more ways to be more like myself, more ways to show the world who I am inside. And, you know, that’s not an easy task, seeing as some people don’t want me to be me. Ralph Waldo Emerson is my hero, and he said something that I tell myself on a daily basis:
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Fuck yeah, it is. I have people telling me how to look, how to behave all the time: don’t cut your hair, be more like a girl, stop wearing Converse All-Stars, stop being so loud, CALM DOWN. Well, guess what, if I want to chop off my hair, I’m fucking going to. I am a girl, even if I don’t fit your form of what a girl should be. My Cons are my FAVORITE and I will not give them up for anyone or anything and why do you care what I put on my feet anyway?! I AM loud: I am Polish and Italian, it happens. And I will NOT calm down. I am a high-strung crazy chick and I know it, but I thrive on a good dose of anxiety, I get help when it gets to be too much, and it’s up to me to decide which it is, thank you very much. It is real work to ignore all the voices pressing in every day, but when I do, that’s when I feel right. I feel good. I feel…like myself.
In my still-rocking Be Brave phase, I want all the more to stand out from the crowd. I happily danced, sang, and skipped on a 4-mile walk with my dog the other day, and it was SO FUN. I got some weird looks from passing cars (well, actually, the cars didn’t look at me, they’re cars. The people inside the cars did, if I’m using correct English) and a few people who were hanging out on their porches laughed (I’m assuming at my singing which is unabashedly awful) but so what? Even if I see these people again, will they know it was me? And frankly, if I saw a girl skipping down a main drag I’d say, “Damn, that girl has flair.” I’d like to think I have flair. I try to have flair. I hope to someday have flair.
Anywho, I keep humming to myself and answering the “Do you want to be different?” question with a soul-shaking “affirmative!” I’ve never felt like I fit in, so why should I try now when it is so much more fun sticking out like a sore, goofy thumb. It might embarrass the people around me but, clearly, if they’re embarrassed of me then I don’t really need them around and they can fucking leave. I am staying right here, with my purple converse, my nerd glasses, and a smile, because life is so much more fulfilling when I get to be myself, unashamed and unrefined.
Aaaaaand, now it’s 3:00AM, and the music plays on and on and on and…