I’m a phony.
I think most of us are to a certain extent, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. But sometimes, there are pieces of ourselves we have to strap down in the straightjacket to do what we gotta do each day.
For me, it is my freakitude. I don’t know if it is any freakier than yours or anyone else’s. I’ve only ever been me. I do know that sometimes it makes it hard to get through the day. What I call my “freakitude” is actually a combination of two things – my inner writer wailing for time to tell her stories, and my generally introverted nature.
No, I don’t think introverts are freaks. I’m proud to be one. But being an introvert in a very extroverted world can make you FEEL like a freak at times. Truthfully, I’m pretty borderline on the introvert/extrovert scale. But more often than not, my extrovert is overfed by my gotta-earn-a-living lifestyle, and the introvert gets the leftover scraps.
Unless you are part of my inner circle, you wouldn’t know it from watching me. I’m a professional. I talk to strangers even though my momma said not to, and I carry on conversations easily. I may very well be that person you go to for advice or ideas, and you’ll get the best I have to offer. I smile when I must, even if on the inside I’m thinking “good Lord, what a doucherocket.” I’ll give a public speech or run a meeting, and you’d never know I wasn’t reveling in my element.
On the inside, though, there are a number of things going on that you’ll never see. You won’t see them because I squash them down like poor bugs under my shoe. I have to, or else the world I have to operate in might think me a flaming nutjob. Here are a few of them:
– Being penned in by traffic makes my muscles tighten and my heart race. It is a feeling I hate more than anything in the world.
– A too long to-do list makes me feel like a caged animal, but yet I can’t stop making those lists in my mind or on paper. I crave far too much time to to reflect and just be quietly inside my own head, instead of actively out and about doing something. A list that loudly proclaims that I’ll have none of that head-space anytime soon freaks me the frick out.
– The girl who sits and nods and looks you in the eye and throws her two cents in at that never-ending meeting where people go on and on about the same thing they yammered over last week? She’s a mirage. The person sitting there is really thinking “oh my god, if I don’t get the flip out of here in the next five minutes, my head is going to explode and you’ll all be wiping brain matter off your suits.”
– I hate, hate, hate crowds. I avoid them when I can. Wanna go grab a bite to eat? Sure, as long as we’re going to one of those cute little local places that have great food but never draw huge crowds. Wanna grab a drink? I’m always game, as long as we pick a pub where I have breathing space. Leave me home if your plan is one of those crowded standing-room-only joints where I can’t move without rubbing asses with a stranger. To deal with that kind of environment, I have to do more shots than even my shot-fairy-conditioned body can handle. Amusement parks? Not amusing, unless you’ve got pull and can close the park down for a day to everyone but our group. Go on and have fun, I’ll be at the pool with Lee or a friend or two, a raft, a margarita and a good book.
– I do not sleep for a day or two before I have to fly, because I’m too busy freaking out over getting on a plane. When I travel for work, I inevitably cling to Lee and bawl my eyes out before he drops me off at the airport. Once I get where I’m going, I enjoy the hell out of myself. It is just the getting there that turns me into a sniveling little girl for a bit. For those moments I am in the airport and boarding the plane, I am terrified that I will never see home again. I just hate handing total control of my circumstances over to someone else, and that’s what flying is all about.
– Sometimes, the world is just too loud and crowded and busy for me. All the hustling and bustling drives me bugshit. When that happens, I completely disappear into my own head for a while, escaping into my ideas and stories. I am right in front of you, but a million miles away. I apologize if this is rude, but the alternative for me is to put my hands over my ears, stomp my foot, and say “will everyone and everything just shut the hell up for a while?” That seems like it would be even worse.
I could go on, but you get the picture. I am a freak walking around in the guise of a normal chick. I used to think this meant there was something wrong with me. But I function anyway. Most people I interact with think I’m a well-spoken extravert. When we get to know each other well enough that I share the truth, they’re often stunned.
So that’s got me thinking there are more people like me than I ever realized. Armies of us. Their quirks may be different, but they’re equally powerful and just as hidden. If I can hide in my “normal girl” costume, why can’t everyone else? None of us are always 100 percent ourselves. We lock away the uncomfortable things so that we can interact with the world and not freak it out too much.
These days, I don’t think much about my quirks at all. They are just part of me, like having long hair and brown eyes, a heel spur on my right foot and the thinnest and almost invisible trace of a long burn scar on my left leg (a reminder of my kitchen clutzitude). They are me, just like a love of reading and writing and a deep caring for my friends and family and a constant craving for the weekend.
As I focus more and more on writing, though, I begin to think of them again.
I wonder, am I a writer because I am this quirky girl deep down inside? Is it her that makes me need to turn words into tales?
Or, am I that quirky girl because I am a writer? Is the fact that there are always stories and words clamoring in my head, competing with the voices and demands and chores that live on the outside, what makes me so quietly weird?
Just like the chicken and the egg, the freak and the writer are connected. At least, that’s the case for me. I guess which came first doesn’t really matter, as long as I accept that maybe I can’t have one without the other. Maybe I’m weird because I write, and maybe I write because I’m weird. But either way, it is that inner craving for quiet reflection that gets stomped on daily by a super-busy world, that sense of being overwhelmed with external stimuli sometimes, that drives me to sit down and write when I can.
So I cling to my inner freak, even though she makes being a day-jobber in a constantly blinging and blanging world a royal pain in the ass. Still, I still wish the world would tone it down a notch now and then. It irks the crap out of me when it gets so loud that I can’t hear my characters telling me where they want to go next.
What about you? Do you love your quirks, or wish they’d go away? Do you put them in a cage when you go about your daily business, or let them all hang out? If you write, or have some other sort of creative passion, how do you think they contribute to it?