Today’s guest post comes from my close friend Sarah Hamersma. Sarah and I enjoy late-night Perkins dates together where we laugh a lot, cry a little, and talk at length about religion and relationships (like everyone else) and about psychometrics and grammar (like no one, ever). And one of the best things about a friend who is comfortable in her own skin is that it lets you be comfortable in yours. –Tamára
“There’s one more girl you won’t be gettin’.”
-Young MC, “Bust a Move”
“There’s one more guy we won’t be getting.”
-Me and my college roommate, when the Blockbuster guy had to tell us we were late in returning Jem and the Holograms
Given my interests, I had the potential to be mercilessly teased in high school. I was academically oriented, and my extracurriculars included playing in the pit orchestra for the fall musical, pioneering our school’s mock trial team, and participating in the occasional Quiz Bowl or Math League event. I even spent one unholy year going to Student Senate twice a week at 6am. By far the coolest thing I did was play trombone in the jazz band (which had groupies among the kids in regular band).
What happens to a person like this? My friends with kids – especially kids who might be considered somewhere on the nerd spectrum – are perhaps rightly concerned about what life could look like for a teenage brainiac. Here’s the thing: I had a great time in high school. My friends and I would get together and play Trivial Pursuit – often with my parents (whom everyone loved). We sometimes played Monopoly in German to get extra credit for our German class. We had formal political debates at lunchtime. My best friend and I attended the first (and only?) convention for fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000. We loved all of it.
Happily, things didn’t change when I got to college. My randomly-assigned roommate and I were kindred spirits from day one. Our dorm room wall was a mix of Brad Pitt and Star Trek posters. We listened to music from the 1940s. On Valentine’s Day of freshman year, we made a glorious sign for our door, complete with our initials:
We weren’t fools – we knew that our behavior in daily life was not particularly consistent with a strategy for attracting guys’ attention. But as much as we would have liked that attention, it would have been too much work to be different. How could she and I enjoy sitting outside a science museum doing origami if our goal was finding men? How much fun might we have missed if we had kept others too much in view? And what would have become of us if we hadn’t waited patiently for the right men to come along with whom we could be our uncompromised selves?
I know people worry about how their kids are fitting in, and I want to be a voice for the kid who was outside the norm but really, honestly, had a great time in those years that can be so hard. One key for me was always to find a niche of people among whom I could just be my weird self. Were there many of them? Not always. Were these people weird, too? Well, there was my college friend who recommended the movie Shadowlands for what we had declared “Hot Guy Movie Night.” The film stars a middle-aged Anthony Hopkins as C.S. Lewis. Her defense? “C.S. Lewis had a hot soul.”
Were we weird? Yes. Did people perhaps wonder about us? Who cares?
Even before those friends offering affirmation, my comfort in my own skin undoubtedly came from my parents. If they ever thought my nerdiness was a problem, they surely never told me. Instead, they supported every endeavor, loved my friends, and seemed to think there was nothing wrong with me – and indeed, there was nothing wrong with me!
But there seems to be a lot of pressure today to make sure our kids are fitting in. Are my kids typical? Well, my 5-year old daughter has never yet played with a doll, preferring to role-play villains. My 2-year-old son saw the shadow of a Kleenex in his room the other night and screamed hysterically, thinking it was a bug. I’ve felt the temptation to try to “work on” areas in which my kids might “need some help,” and I admit I sometimes worry about things that seem quirky or odd. I like to think I’m worrying for their sake – that I don’t want them to be too different.
Then I remember: that was me. It still is! And thanks to God’s provision of wonderful parents and truly quirky friends, I love being me – and I joyfully look forward to my kids being able to say the same thing someday.
Sarah Hamersma is an economist, a mom, and a Christian– hopefully all at the same time. She plans to keep being these things every day for the foreseeable future, despite her lack of trinitarian capabilities.