Theatre : The Land of Misfits
To say I was not cool as a teenager would be a bit of an understatement. And when I say a bit of course I mean Grand Canyon sized. I was a dork. I was 5 feet 7 inches, weighing in around 100 lbs with jet black frizzy out of control hair and ghostly pale skin. I hated my teeth so I never smiled. I wore a lot of black, a lot of high waters, a lot of ill fitting second hand clothing. I preferred to spend my summers indoors reading Stephen King or Anne Rice and writing. I was in the Glee club type groups before Glee club was cool. I was obsessed with vampire stories before that was cool. I was in student body government, Future Problem Solvers League, you know all the stuff that really makes you popular...not. I was incredibly quiet with a very sarcastic, dry sense of humor which did not always go over well with the other teenaged girls. Once someone questioned why I was wearing all black.
Now the real answer was because it matched and it was clean but of course the witty response I gave was because I “was in mourning for my lost youth”. You can imagine how well that went over as my sarcasm went right over everyone’s heads and it was assumed that I was serious and just another notch on the old “how weird is that chick” belt. Don’t even get me started on the time my well intentioned teacher decided he just had to share a short horror story I had written with the rest of my class. He was so proud and I sunk into my seat knowing this would not bode well for me. I very badly wanted to fit in but never seemed to figure out how to.
I always said the wrong things, I did the wrong things, I was socially awkward to a painful degree. I was also dealing with a lot of heavy stuff which I kept underwraps not wanting to be looked at as any more of an outcast. All in all, I was not a pretty sight in any regard. I felt like I could never seem to do anything right...until I was on a stage. Hand that girl a script or a piece of sheet music and suddenly she transformed. There was something I was good at. Something people couldn’t laugh at. There was a place I felt confident. Somewhere I belonged.
Now I don’t share this to gain sympathy, I am not whining or complaining. Everything I have gone through has brought me to where I am today and I am grateful. But, I also know I am not alone. As an adult as I get to know others in our performance community I find more and more that this is a common thread among us. Many of us were those misfit creatures who never fit in, who always felt a little odd, a little different. I don’t know if it is going through that which makes us more in touch with our emotions and thus better able to portray them on a stage, if this is a way for us to feel like we fit in?
I don’t know. I don’t know why it is. I just know that many of us seem to share this bond. Although, the funny thing is, when I have worked with younger people in shows as an adult I look at them and think how amazing they are. So poised, so focused, so talented. I hope that they feel that way about themselves. If they do not, I hope that they know that awkward phase will pass. Kind of. I don’t know if it is that we outgrow that or if we just learn to be more comfortable in our “geek” skin.
Now, I feel a bit proud to be different. I am sarcastic, and odd, a little cooky but I kind of think it’s cool and when I look at my fellow misfit friends, I see how awesomely unique they are and I freaking love it. I see how amazing they are on those stages, the passion they bring, the beauty of the characters they portray and I am in awe. I see rooms and auditoriums full of people captivated by their talent, engrossed in the stories they are telling and the art they are creating. I see these wonderful people who may have, once upon a time, felt unappreciated and unloved bring others to their feet in admiration. If you are someone who is feeling left out or like you don’t belong I promise you that you do somewhere. I promise you that you can and will find people who will appreciate, accept and love you. I promise you that there is something that you have talent in. Just don’t give up hope. Believe in yourself and keep going. You will get there. You too will find your very own band of misfits.