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Wednesday, May 7, 2014


When I was in the 6th grade, someone called me a frog.  Don’t get me wrong; although this was clearly a lowlight of that year, I remember 6th grade as generally being the deepest depths of adolescent misery, so being compared to an amphibian was simply adding insult to injury.  In defense of the (mean!) person who (actually implied) this, I was not a pretty thing to look at.  I was starting puberty and my lanky body was quite suddenly lumpy.  The glasses I wore “for distance” abruptly became the glasses I wore “all the time”.  And I had braces.  And for some reason, I decided this was the perfect time to cut my long blonde hair short.  It was an awkward stage, to put it mildly.  To make matters worse, we had just moved to a new town and a new school and I had all the wrong clothes and an (understandably) terrible attitude.  Ah, youth!

So my parents enrolled me in Wednesday night CCD classes at our church, as if things weren’t bad enough.  You’d have to know my parents to understand why they thought this would be a good place for me to make friends and integrate into our new community; you’d have to know me to understand why it was not.  The night “it” happened, the teachers challenged us to be more like Jesus…music to a preteen’s ears!  Ha.  Their suggestion for how to do this was to “kiss a frog”.  You know, like in the frog prince.  Just because someone isn’t good looking, doesn’t have the right clothes and isn’t cool doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of attention and possibly even affection.  Even a frog might have some kind of value.  So after class, as I was waiting for my parents to pick me up, one of the most beautiful and popular girls in my school came over and said “hi” to me.  And I said “hi” back.  But inside, I was sick.  Because I fully understood what had just happened…that beautiful and popular girl had just kissed a frog.
I’m not popular.  I’ve never been popular.  By the time I was in 8th grade I had contacts, the braces came off, my hair grew in and my body normalized back to lanky.  I had a lot of wonderful friends, many of whom still bless my life today.  Even the beautiful and popular girl who had wounded me so badly and I were on good terms.  But I still wasn’t popular. Because being popular (at least in the “popular” sense of the word) is not about being well liked and socially accepted; popular is a state of being.  Because being popular, (contrary to “popular” opinion), is not so much about beauty, brains, clothes, cars, fads or trends…it’s about the place you sit in your soul and how you move in this world.  If you are popular, you can’t disguise it, not even in a Wal-Mart leotard.  You’re wearing it?  That automatically makes it COOL.

The same goes for being a nerd.  If you are a nerd, you have nerdism in your very soul.  Sorry about that.  You can try to dress that shit up, but it still smells, looks, tastes and feels nerdy.  All those “geek to chic” movies are selling you a bill of goods.  You ARE a NERD, to the very core of your being, and ain’t nothing going to change that.  Nothing you can add to your outside, anyway.  And I like nerds!  I am personally more of a geek than a nerd, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for any teenager who carries a briefcase or wears a pocket protector.  We need you nerds!  Never change!  And let’s face it, you probably couldn’t even if you wanted to…psych!
We are all, to some degree or another, playing with the hand we got dealt; some of us are traditionally beautiful, but most of us, not so much.  A few people are truly brilliant, some really smart and then…there’s the rest of the planet.  There are athletes and mathletes, freaks and geeks (no, not the same thing), Gingers and Mariannes, Studs and Duds, frogs and princes, Hillarys and…Kardashians.  That’s what makes a horse race, friends!  And there is the degree to which we self-identify and accept who we are, and then there is the degree to which we struggle against our own nature our whole lives.  Because we have been appraised of the differences and which ones are deemed “good” and which ones are deemed “bad” and we all want to be ALL GOOD, ALL the TIME.  At least in other people’s opinions, if not our own. 

But you know what?  I AM A GEEK.  I get ridiculously excited watching “Sherlock” on PBS, I still kind of love the Monkees, the 70’s were my favorite decade to date and Stephen King (the MASTER of ALL GEEKS) is my most preferred living author.  Ha ha ha!  See???  GEEK CITY.  And I have learned to love that about myself, why not? I’ll never be interested in fashion (Zzzzz), I am ALWAYS going to be WAY behind on any hot trends (because wtf???), and I am never going to care about the kind of car you drive or how much money you make.  I am only impressed or pleased by WHO YOU ARE, not anything you added on to yourself.  The great news?  I’ve found that “who most people are” is pretty damned endearing and often very interesting.  I really do genuinely like the vast majority of people I meet.  Total geek thing to say, I know.
See, that is the real message of the frog prince…it is always about what is going on inside of you, not outside, that really counts.  If you can live up to your own standards and let people have their own without (too much) judgment, then you are going to be a pretty happy person.  If you go to bed at night knowing you did alright by your inner geek or freak or nerd or diva or Type-A or FROG or whatever you truly are, then you are going to be content.  Trying to twist yourself into a format you were never meant to live by will bring you nothing but confusion and frustration.  Figure out who you REALLY are (you already know, come on!!!) and go there.  Go there without concern for what others will think because it doesn’t matter.  If they want to spoil their day thinking about how much they disapprove of you, that is their loss.

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