Is this who I am, the oddball?

 man doing handstand in sunflowers


I’ve always felt different.

And I haven’t always felt comfortable in embracing that.

I’ve been labeled “intense” more than a few times. When I was younger, I figured this meant that I was bad, broken in some way.

Now I know that not conforming can scare people.

I don’t even think that I’m that strange. I’ve led a somewhat normal life. And, depending on how you ask, I’m in a somewhat normal profession — the mental health field.

But I know I can be a bit too much for people. If I am passionate about something, I am really passionate. I’m ambitiously passionate.

I want to change the world with ideas, and I’m supposed to be too old for that.

You would think that, now that I am almost finished with graduate school, that this poor sense should have been knocked out of me by now. But it hasn’t.

I believe I can make a difference. And what’s wrong with that?

My mind has always had wild ideas. It’s always made a hundred associations at once.

I thought everyone’s mind did that.

It used to get me in trouble in class when I was younger because I would crack jokes off of some association my mind made. I’d turn a teacher’s comment into a double entendre.

I learned that you could only do that if the teacher liked you in the first place, so I got the teachers to like me in the first place.

Humor fills in the dark places. It makes them seem not so bad.

I think my life has been training. It’s been practice in the development of self-awareness. Now that I have some of it — I’ll never have enough — I know I’ve used humor as a defense mechanism.

Now I use it as an offense mechanism.

I use it when I’m bored or when I simply think my environment needs some improvement. Laughter can cure the most sour of hearts.

And then there was a period of about five months where my life had no laughter. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I didn’t think I would ever make it through that time.

Laughter is right up there next to breathing in the list of things I need.

You know, I used to be sillier.

But I’ve seen too much. I know that emotional turmoil is as random as it is brutal. I don’t wish it upon anyone. It’s a terrible paradox — you don’t want to have pain, but if you move through it, it transforms your life and your capacity to love.

I’m an oddball.

I used that as a pejorative for a while.

Then, not too long ago, someone who I really respect asked me why I call myself that.

“Why do you call yourself an oddball?”

“I just feel different. I guess I feel that’s how people see me.”

“Well, if you’re an oddball. Be the best oddball. Be the best, damn oddball you can be.”

He’s right.

I am the oddball. Coo coo ca choo.