I collect words. Not in a formal sense, they’re not written down or stashed under my bed–but they are phrases or ideas that someone has given me over my life, and I treasure them. I got a new one tonight, a heartfelt apology that I know I’ll never forget and always appreciate. Some are as simple as being described as a ‘good human’, others are literally just words that I’ve come across like ‘quaquaversal’ (moving outward in all directions from a common center) that set fire to my imagination when I heard them.
I’ve spoken a little about how I did (and still do) feel ‘other’ in the way I think and view the world. For a long time, I thought that view was more than just different–I thought it was wrong. I imagined my whole self as something that was wrong, in need of reshaping to fit in properly.
If only I could like this, do that, be more of the other–then I would be right. Then I would be normal. Then I wouldn’t be weird.
Except I never was, and I never will be. I started embracing that properly when I first made friends that didn’t shy back from my wild philosophies and rampant imagination. Some of them, to my great surprise, were even more ‘out there’ than I was. They weren’t ashamed. I started getting comfortable with my weird, and I’ve never looked back.
High school was easier socially, but I was still a teenager and still subject to the anxieties that came with feeling out of place. I was only beginning to accept myself as ‘quirky’ rather than ‘strange’, I still imagined that somewhere out there was a key I could turn and slide into society without a hitch.
I didn’t care if it would make me boring. I didn’t want to be noticed. I didn’t want to be special or unique. I wanted to live a nice beige life and do all the things you were supposed to do at the age you were supposed to do them. I wanted to be unremarkable.
Having friends who also looked at the world sideways helped, and being free to be my ‘artistic’ (not ‘weird’), creative (not ‘crazy’–though we’ll come back to that word in a later post), and ‘tech-savvy’ (not ‘nerdy’, although later that became a cool thing) self did wonders for my self esteem. But there were days it got me down, where I was frustrated by my inability to hold back that one weird comment too many.
Which was noticed, and I don’t think I appreciated the value of that at the time. One teacher made a point to tell me (and I forget the exact words she used, and what she actually said. I remember only two words, and the rest is what I built around them).
She said I had a ‘kaleidoscope mind’. Yes, I saw the world differently–but that wasn’t wrong. My view, although not something others would immediately understand, was still beautiful. Full of colour and originality. Unique to me and precious because of it. It was something to value, not hide.
The phrase still sets my imagination running. Looking back at myself and my own shift from inward and self-ashamed to bolder and unapologetic, it has more meaning even now. The colours have shifted, and I shifted with them. I am something new. I will be new again tomorrow. Not always ‘improved’, but always different and pushing for progress. Stability. A stronger sense of self.
Never less than I was the day before. Never wrong, and never ugly. Just… shifting colours, trying to find the pattern that suits me best.
Originally I wanted ‘kaleidoscopemind’, back when I was first signing up for tumblr. Someone had taken that, and after some thought I came up with ‘InShiftingColour’.
With the ‘u’ in ‘colour’, it’s not a wise choice from a marketing perspective. Too easily mis-spelled. But this was never about branding, or marketing.