Have you ever noticed that one of the most hurtful insults anyone could throw at you in school is actually a synonym of one of the highest compliments anyone can pay you as an adult?
Because being called a freak and being called extraordinary are really no different.
Except that only one of those words gets thrown around in school playgrounds.
And nothing I say is going to change the fact that, when you’re eleven years old, being called a freak kind of feels like the end of the world. But if I could say something to eleven-year-old me who thought it was the end of the world, I’d say not to worry, because it won’t be long before you’ll be pleased when someone points out your differences.
We spend the first decade or so of our lives trying desperately to fit in, and then the rest of it trying desperately to stand out. And perhaps that thing that made an eleven-year-old call you a freak will be the thing that makes someone else call you their friend, or fall in love with you, or give you a job.
Maybe that label will define you after all, because nobody ever did anything extraordinary by fitting in. No-one ever did anything exceptional by being ordinary.
And to anyone who ever called someone a freak, I say this:
Ignoring for now the fact that there has never been any such thing as normal, maybe being normal in high school will be the high point of your life. Because do you know what a synonym of normal is? Average. You were average at best.
You thought we were strange, you thought we were weird, you called us freaks. And yes, we are. Because we will never be like you, we will never be mediocre people.
And we should thank you really, because now we understand what it is to feel small. We understand what it is to be sneered at. We understand what it is to know that someone is being deliberately cruel to us. And we understand that no-one deserves that. And that makes us kind. Kindness is never mediocre.
But you? You were just the bad guy in someone else’s story. You’re a footnote in the biography of a person who has always been more exceptional than you will ever be. And if they meet you again, they will be kind to you, because they are not mediocre people. They were never average at best.
Those people you called freaks? Actually, I think you’ll find, they’re extraordinary.