I’ve been trying to think of what to write here, and I keep hearing my internal voice shriek “DON’T TELL THEM THAT – THEY’LL KNOW YOU’RE A FREAK!” … So, I think it’s best to begin there. At the freak.
As a kid I had coke-bottle-thick, horn-rimmed glasses. I was beyond the politely plump and well into the realm of pushing-maximum-density. My long oily hair hung limp from my scalp to my over-sized bum, and I was convinced that I would one day be an Oscar-winning actress (I would even do a repertoire of politician impersonations on request). I hung out mostly with my parent’s artist friends on the weekend, and was, obviously, entirely shunned by kids my own age. To be honest with you, I don’t blame them one bit, and I don’t think I blamed them even then. However, it was clear to me from a very early age that stunning beauty and smooth socialization were not going to be mine, and that I was indeed … different.
My father, an artist, and my mother, an arts manager, both struggled to understand what I was talking about when I would return home from school bemoaning my difference. “They HATE me!” I’d say, “because I’m just not like them”. My father would look puzzled and say “Of course you’re not darling! You’re like you!” and he’d smile genuinely at me. His simplicity confounded me. My mother would sit with me in the afternoons after school and take great pains to explain that “the things that make you different are things you should be proud of – they’re the things that make you you darling!”. Her biased view of my value also confounded me. She would continue, “And remember, if other kids laugh or tease you it’s just because difference can be scary and confronting. But when you’re proud of your differences, you show other kids that it’s alright to be different… and they might just find a little bit of courage to be proud of their own individuality”.
So, I decided, at the tender age of 7, that if I was going to be different, then I was going to be proud of it! I began tying coloured pipe-cleaners around the corners of my glasses to accentuate their presence, and to match my outfits and mood. I began taking my lunch box into the middle of the playground instead of hiding away, because I wanted everyone to know that I was eating alone and that that was O.K. with me. On days when I was feeling a little down I’d twist those pipe-cleaners on my glasses so that they spelled out “GO ME” above my forehead. I could see that I was different and I was determined to have a sense of humour about it. I was a freak and proud to exercise my feakishness to its full capacity.
As I grew up I became more self-conscious, especially as a teen. However as an adult I’ve come full circle. I’ve rediscovered some of the joy of my freakishness as I’ve traveled and lived overseas and been reminded what it’s like to stand out. I’ve rekindled by respect for the empowering nature of a well-placed pipe-cleaner.
Once I left school, training as an actor, I began to write plays (mainly because I knew what I wanted to perform on stage). Slowly my oscar-hopeful actor self, realised that my affair with play writing had become my truer love. Then, out of my total, drama-nerd passion for writing plays, I developed a real love for creating (scripting, producing, filming and editing) videos as a compliment to my wrighting life. From there I spent every day hoping to learn how to be a real writer, a genuine producer and a proper person. I’m still working on all three.