It Sucks To Be Unique | Teen Ink

It Sucks To Be Unique MAG

April 27, 2018
By Anonymous

My mom reassured me that “Life does not treat anyone fairly, so just try to enjoy the days you have in your short life.” She also loves to remind me that life likes throwing curve balls. I learned this lesson as early as elementary school, a place where I didn’t fit in but had no idea why. As I reached the end of childhood, I began to understand and recognize the differences between my vibrant originality and my peers’ monochromatic neutrality – a difference that other kids had picked up easily since the first grade.

Being different sucks in a small-minded community, where straying from normality results in sour looks or condescending judgment. Since childhood, situations that invoked one’s unique personality would fill my chest with a curious pressure, as if a light hug wrapped itself around my heart. My skin would crawl at the thought of people drawing connections between me and the social stigmas that I wish had never adopted me. When children acknowledge their difference, they are engulfed in self-conscious thoughts and their awareness of the weight of their steps is magnified.

I recall one of the many emotionally crippling and stormy indoor recess days where I sat on the dusty blue gym bleachers. I never had anyone to play with. I sat alone, expecting to be unbothered, but some boys who I considered my friends sat behind me. Balls flew across the brick room, seeming to follow the vibrations of jumping kids. The homework assignments I intended to complete were sitting in my lap, but the “friends” decided to take my attention away from any productivity. My focus was stolen by the repeated derogatory and homophobic slurs that the boys uttered behind me: “Gay queer f*****.”

While I sat there with dead eyes, my new view of the world killed the purity of my optimism. The boys’ genuine but malicious curiosity turned to condescending and bitter inquiries: “What’re you doing, queer?” The echoes of excited and sweaty kids that once filled the dated gymnasium became muffled. The slow creeping sensation of self-hatred filled my body. Annoyed, one boy taunted, “Can the f***** not hear?” 

My body became numb and my thoughts, cold. The storm outside seemed to bellow with tormenting laugher. The rain, with the quiet flick of water droplets hitting nearby windows, reminded me that I couldn’t avoid the sting of the world’s greatest weapon. I focused on not showing my discomfort in order to appear unbothered.

Those three hollow words followed me. It took many years, but I now pride myself in having the characteristics that inspired them. I had not thought deeply about my sexuality, nor had I understood its relevance, so I suppose I could say thank you to those evil kids for shining a light on a secret I didn’t know I had. I can say thank you to those kids for creating a person who will always fight for love and tolerance. Thank you for teaching me to be my own person so I can show others that being unapologetically original is infinitively easier than tip-toeing around one’s peers in order to fit in. However, my list of gratitude does not extend further beyond that point. I have a longer list of reasons why I will never be thankful to those boys. Having to fight back tears after denying questions that I now know are harmless would be the leading reason. I never asked to be different – I just am. It is not my choice, and it was a difficult choice to not make.

While I adore my peers now, they are like blind millionaires, unable to see the obvious privileges that make life slightly easier for them. Many of my peers believe that using slurs is not a big deal because “they’re just words.” I can tell you from my personal experience that words are not always just words. Words are weapons and can injure just like guns do. 

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