Yesterday I taught a keyboarding class. The first student in carried a thick, 6 or 700 page New York Times bestelling novel in her hands. She sat down at the computer a few minutes before class started and immediately opened her book. Her frizzy brown hair fell in uncombed waves around her round face. Plastic glasses framed her eyes, which didn't look up from her book until class started. The moment she finished her assignment, she was back in her book. Her long jean skirt and green t-shirt were an incongruous pair that fit poorly on her short, overweight body.
I was drawn to her. I stopped and asked her about her book. to which I received a 1-word response. She didn't like to be interrupted, apparently. The other kids talked and laughed among themselves, and she ignored them as much as they ignored her.
I couldn't believe how like me she was. My college roommates will remember the picture I have from 6th grade, with the t-shirt tucked into my too-tight jeans, the long ratted hair and the thick plastic glasses. I had no idea that I was such an awkward pre-teen, yet I was.
I wanted to take this girl aside and tell her this. Tell her how similar we are. But she didn't need that information; not yet. She had no idea how on the outside she was. Probably next year or the year after, she will realize it, just like I did. And then she'll need the encouragement, the support, someone to tell her that she doesn't have to be like everyone else. That if she's just herself, she'll find her niche. She doesn't need anyone to tell her what she should wear, look like, or be.
I'm out of that stage now. But I remember it.