An Orange in the Apple Barrel

Last month I got married, and shared why I wore orange to my wedding. The expression "she's not a smaller apple, she's an orange," became my motto for many years. It helped me to understand why I didn't fit the traditional school mold even though I would later be identified as gifted (in hindsight I was probably what they would call "twice exceptional" with unidentified auditory processing and attention issues).

I embraced my orangeness in an apple world. I might have been considered a hipster before it was remotely considered "hip." This was especially true in the way that I dressed. My senior year of high school, when the grunge movement started, I remember bemoaning the fact that the same people who used to mock my style were now complementing me. When I went to school in a patchwork dress I designed myself, I expected weird looks but instead got complements instead.

I was so contrary in my dress that even when I went to the more alternative scene of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, where most people wore black and possibly lingerie, I wore things like a cute little vintage green and white gingham jumper with daisies. I got into wearing garter belts, but with cotton stockings I tie died myself.

I was fortunate enough to be raised with family and the Unitarian Universalist community that supported expression of individuality. School, however, didn't always do this. Although the school was very diverse, there were not a lot of mixed ethnicity groups on campus. My band of misfit friends was an exception. Because of this, you'd almost think we were popular if you looked at my senior yearbook because that year's theme was diversity and my friends represented that concept well.

My last husband was in a band with some of those friends. I knew we were destined to meet when a friend told me, "he's weird, he's even weirder than you!" This was a flag we both carried proudly.

Being weird just for the sake of being weird was a developmental stage of adolescence for me. It was my own form of rebellion since in most other ways I was a sweet and obedient child. I knew I would never "fit in," so instead I strove to stand out.

I remember meeting a person who read auras who once told me that I cared a lot about what other people thought of me. I laughed at the time because I thought I didn't care at all, when in fact I know that I cared a little too much, so I created an image of myself that I could control to some degree and when people didn't like me I could brush it off that they just didn't "get" me.

Over the years though, I saw my deliberate unconventionality as a sign of imaturity and began to tone myself down to fit with the other apples. I didn't see it as loosing myself, just as part of growing up.

While it is true that doing things just for the sake of getting attention no longer feels like the right fit for me, neither does doing things simply to fit the mold.

As Dr. Seuss said, "Why fit in when you were born to stand out?"

This post is part of a blog hop that starts in November on ages and stages of giftedness for Hoagies Gifted Education Page.