Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Letting My Freak Flag Fly

Thanks to a friend of mine, I scored a temp job doing data entry at Giant Impact. Among other things, this is the company that organizes Catalyst. When she texted me asking if I was interested in the job I didn't ask where it was located, what we were doing, etc...

All I knew is I hadn't gotten out of my pajamas until four o'clock the day before and the pink fuzzy pants really needed a rest! I'd actually prayed the night before, "Dear God, something"

So, I drove up to the Giant Impact office. Filled out my paperwork. Took my seat in front of a computer. And started entering the data from thousands of contact cards.

Sometime around lunch I sent my friend the following text: "OMG! I waited until later to take my lunch break because I was trying to avoid people and small talk and stuff! But there is constant traffic in the breakroom and since I am the only person in here and everyone is so nice...they are ALL talking to me!"

And my wonderful, understanding, fellow quirky friend texted back "Eat outside on the patio. It's what I do"

A little later, I sent another text to my friend (who has worked with me, knows me well, and would understand) "YES! I haven't burst into song ALL day!!!" And she texted me back and simply asked "Why?" To which I replied "Because it's SO quiet in a library! And everyone would hear me...and that would be bad."

It's horrible isn't it? Walking into a room, wanting to fit in, wanting people to like you, wanting to avoid the looks that say "you are strange"...So I acted normal as long as I could.

Three days. It took three days.

It was inevitable I suppose. Made more inevitable by the fact that when I bragged to my kids on the night of the second day that I'd managed to be normal for two days my daughter immediately lectured me on the fact that I was amazing, that all my quirks made me that way, and that she was taking away my "freak flag" because I was unworthy of it. (I wasn't aware of the fact that I had a freak flag. Or that it existed. I now want a pride flag, a freak flag, and a pole standing in my front yard so both of them can fly proudly)

At first it was only a crack...I didn't actually sing out loud but I did mouth the words and dance a little. I freaked out a little more than I should when I thought I'd messed something up so people heard that weird tone in my voice I get when stressed and then my obsessive need to know everything. Because of that I made a couple of theatre references that no one got. And then, when we finished a major assignment I asked our leader if we could celebrate with a song and dance number. My first clue that this group of people could handle my quirks was when, without missing a beat, he looked at his watch and replied "maybe at lunch".

The next day, our supervisor had bought us lunch and it was our first chance to really get to know each other. I was aware that I hadn't completely thrown the door open wide revealing how truly weird and socially awkward I was so I thought maybe I could it cool. Then one girl noticed the other girl's burger and said "Oh my word, what happened to your bun?" And the other girl said "Oh...I have this weird thing with bread. Along with all my other weird things..." And I gleefully confessed how hard I'd been trying to appear normal and how truly odd and socially awkward I was. No one seemed that surprised. But that led to everyone sort of flying their own freak flag and the sharing of stories and after that we all felt much more comfortable just being ourselves. Well...I still haven't sang out loud. It really is quiet like a library.

Be yourself, guys. Chances are...everyone is just waiting for the chance to be themselves too.

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