My Orange North Face Jacket
I was in elementary school the first time I decided to try to be cool.
Key word here: Try.
I became all to interested in what the coolest girls in school were doing, saying, wearing. I wanted to hang out where they did after school, watch the right movies, and do my hair the perfect way so I could achieve that always coveted status of being “popular”.
But I was always pretty weird as a kid, and I still am as an adult, and usually that doesn’t add up to being the coolest kid in school.
When everyone elses’ favorite songs on their “student profiles” were by top 100 pop artists, I wrote down This Abyss from an album released by Lemony Snicket (this is actually a 100% true story). And when everyone else was discussing the failed auditions from American Idol, I had nothing to add because American Idol was never my jam.
Also I used to have a caterpillar farm that I tended to during recess.
Like I said, weird kid.
There was one status symbol that I coveted above the rest in my elementary days, however. It was the beautiful, esteemed, glorious North Face jacket.
It seemed like all the cool kids had one, and I wanted one too.
Maybe if I had a North Face jacket I could finally achieve that all-consuming coolness that seemed so natural for some of my peers.
So naturally I begged and pestered my parents for months on end. Even in the middle of Georgia’s hot, sticky summers, there I was asking for a winter jacket. All for the sake of fitting in.
Then that glorious morning finally arrived. It was Christmas Day, and I was looking for that one special gift underneath the tree.
One by one I opened each gift until finally I found it: My very own North Face jacket.
And it was…
Brilliant, bright, beaming orange.
So not cool.
Everyone else’s jackets were grey or blue or some shade of neutral and boring. When all I wanted to do was fit in, it seemed like everything was driving me to stand out.
It took me many more years to learn the lesson that orange North Face should’ve taught me. I’m super weird, and that’s actually so cool. There are people out there who also tended to caterpillars and adored Lemony Snicket in elementary school. There are people, truly good (and sometimes cool) people who are willing to indulge even my weirdest quirks and obsessions. These people love me not in spite of my weirdness, but because of it.
What I wish I was born knowing, but eventually learned over time is this: Life is way too short to be like everyone else. And it’s also too short not to celebrate the weirdness inside each of us.
Every person has their own quirkiness. They have the things they say, like, and do that make the world think they’re weird. But those things are also the things that make them lovely and beautiful and endearing and special.
So these days, I proudly wear my weirdness like a bright orange jacket. And seriously you guys, it’s so freeing.
As for you, the one on the other side of the screen reading this, take today to celebrate the weirdness within yourself and the ones around you.
And don’t be afraid to be different. Even when it makes you, well, orange.