2 min read

Are we normal?

I call myself a nerd – and wear it like a badge of honour.

(But you can correctly assume that it wasn't always like this.)

You know the drill: We all want to fit in. Especially in high school. (I wish someone had told me – and not an adult but one of my wiser peers – that everyone wanted to fit in. Because everyone is insecure.)

When I was 16, I dreaded going to school. My classmates saw me as a chubby girl, with no relationships, parties, expensive clothes but plenty of books. Hence, a nerd.

Finding friends felt like forming an alliance. You usually pick someone who's sort of similar to you and shares your interests – that's the ultimate "phew, I'm not alone" feeling. Because when you're affirmed that yes, surely you're normal, look, Liza and Kate are your friends, then no one could pick on you.

Well, I didn't have friends among my classmates. Going to school felt like putting on armour, wincing slightly at giggles about your appearance and smarts, finding solace in not speaking up.

Yet, deep down it felt wrong.

You see, it wasn't like I didn't have friends at all.

After school, I'd log into ICQ to talk to people from russia to Estonia. We spent hours on our literary forum to come up with Harry Potter inspired characters and play against each other in various scenarios. Hours flew by until the next day came and I had to go to school again.

I found my people – my nerds! – and I couldn't let ourselves down.

Did I feel conscious about the way I looked? Yes.

But did I ever doubt my imagination, ability to come up with stories, and dive into books and characters? My thinking? Absolutely not.

So I stood up. (It was my little rebellion against normalcy of our prim and proper school.)

At the "tolerance day" roundtable, saccharine stories from my classmates felt like salt rubbed in my wounds.

I couldn't nod to it. Instead, my hand shot up. What came out next felt like the start of the Hogwarts Battle, my utmost belief that no matter what, we would win.

"Do you know that what you're doing to me is bullying?"

(5 minutes later, I got my apology and an unspoken decision that I'd be left alone for the next 2 years.)

To this day, it feels like my little victory over socially accepted sighs and averted gazes when someone is singled out for who they are.

It was my first step to accepting that yeah, somewhere out there there are my people. Equally weird to the "normal" eyes in whatever group we are part of. (I have to say that I'm still on this journey.)

And when today my friend jokingly asked, "Am I normal?", there was only one answer for her in our group:

"No." No one is. What is even "normal"? And so what?