Recently, I read a post on yahighway.com, that I couldn't help but correlate with what my high school years were like.
You see, I wasn't the girl with tons of friends for my head was always somewhere else, speeding what seemed like a thousand miles an hour in every direction. Though I didn’t know back then that I wanted to be a novelist, more like a songwriter that wrote killer radio hits and got paid the big bucks, I knew without a doubt that I loved to read. Reading helped me believe in being that type of dreamer who knew that if I dreamt big, I could do anything I wanted to do and still do to this day.
There was one novelist who inspired that spark of nerdy dreaming in my early high school years and still does till this day. Caroline B. Cooney was my world changer. The four novels from hers that I’ve read more than a dozen times by now were the Time Travelers Quartet, still my guilty pleasure till this day. I cherished those books and anything else she has ever written because somehow just reading one of her novels made my high school, family life and troubled thoughts a little more bearable than having a false group of friends who really didn’t care about me most of the time. You see, I knew I was different than the rest of the 5,500+ students at my high school. Yes that’s correct, during the 2007-2008 school year Cypress Bay High School had reached an enrollment of more than 5,500 students and got named the most overcrowded high school in the United States. The school even got a show on MTV in 2008 called, The Paper.
Sometimes in a school that larger, I felt like I would never fit in anywhere. I was that girl whose style of clothing, friends and music changed every year because I didn’t know where I was wanted. I went from freshman hip hop to sophomore rocker to junior prep. When senior year rolled around, it was more of a preppy rock attitude I tried to pull off because by then I was thinking of college and high school was just becoming a bittersweet aftertaste that I was quickly trying to get rid of.
Till this day and more so back in those four years, I was seen as that nerd that wasn’t necessarily school smart, but sure knew how to dream of a world outside of myself. I was the friend who others asked for help in writing their papers and poems. They knew me as the girl that liked to write flowery words in black and white composition notebooks, now a day’s one is more likely to see my jolt down ideas on my iPhone.
Even though in my life today I have to hide the part of myself that wants to soak in the world of my novels, I still have my personality speared around my cubical at work. O’Hara’s Having a Coke with You Poem is tacked in the wall in my direct view, a Saint Augustine historical timeline tacked in another wall to remind me why I took the job in the first place so I could live in Saint Augustine, while a plastic pumpkin sits nearby to display that my love of Halloween doesn’t only get seen in October. These small objects keep me sane more then I let on sometimes.
When I have to get so consume in a world I have to grin and bear to live in, remembering that part of myself that dreams crazy ideas, makes me believe in a future where I can and will be a world changer. Where my art will become my whole life, where the nerd will finally be able to breathe easily and laugh a little more. So to all those out there that have been laughed at and spitted upon, take it from the girl who spent most of high school eating lunch alone on the back steps of portables. When you want something so badly it’s hard imagining what the loss would feel like, keeping pushing forward because nothing will burn worse than giving up on your daydreams and seeing others doing what you know you should be doing as well.
All Hail the Dreamers
I was That Kid. The one who was colored pictures of unicorns when she was supposed to be solving equations. The one who kept a book hidden under the desk while her teacher lectured. I was the kid who imagined myself a warrior princess, a witch, a wise woman, until grownups told me I was too old to believe such things.
I'm willing to bet most of you were That Kid too. If you are a reader, or a writer, or a dreamer, you were probably scolded. Probably teased. You were probably called a ditz, or a nerd, or a geek.
It's ok. Most of us were.
As we grew up, we were taught how to hide it. How to pay attention when the teacher was talking. How to be smart and professional. How to live in the real world.
It's ok. We all did it. We all learned how to be normal.
But the older I get, the more I resent the "normal" mask, and the more I think it's not ok to wear it.
In recent years, we've learned so much about multiple intelligences, and all the ways that people learn. We've learned how to encourage children who learn by pictures and pretend games and storybooks. But we have not yet learned how valuable it is to be a dreamer.
Have you seen Once Upon a Time? I just started watching the series. It's one of those TV shows that everyone I know seems to love; and I think I know why. It speaks to something deep and instinctive in us - something that begs to be part of a different story.
Dreamers, artists, writers - those are the Henrys of the world. They are the ones who see princesses where others see housekeepers and teachers and college students. They are the ones who see a cursed land in need of healing, when others just see a boring little town. They are important.
You are important.
Your art is important.
You may think of yourself as just someone trying to write a book; just a reader; just a dreamer. But your dreams and your art and your books are vital. They mean something. They add to the world. And maybe we aren't real-life princesses or witches or warriors; but something about art and beauty makes us feel that we can be.
So embrace the fact that you are That Kid. Be a ditz, or a geek, or a nerd. Be a world changer. Make us see the goodness and light behind the cursed land.