We’ve all heard the story of the ugly duckling, the awkward little guy who never seems to fit in, yet eventually develops into the most beautiful swan of them all. Wonderful story, isn’t it? And why is that? I think being treated like an outcast forces one to look inside, to discover who they truly are, to construct their character from the inside out. Thus, in the long run, the “weird” kids often end up being in a better position to tackle life than the cute little yellow ducklings who have never had to face adversity.
I never fell neatly into either of those categories and I believe that was a huge blessing. I was inconspicuous, white noise, a fly on the wall. I was extremely reserved and enjoyed sitting back and observing, I understood the ins and outs of avoiding criticism and risk. I didn’t have many friends nor very high self-esteem when I was younger, but I was never bullied nor ever in a place where I couldn’t love myself. It was a cesspool for detached observation and healthy introspection. I believe that being too far on either end of the spectrum would have served as a detriment and hindered my personal growth.
Although I’m still quiet and relatively shy, I’m far more confident and self-assured than I was five and ten years ago. When I run into individuals from my past, I have to laugh because it’s as if they’ve all been handed a variation of the same script: “You’re [cute, funny, hot, smart, sweet, talented, kind, pretty, clever, amazing]. I never noticed.”
The connotation is always there…they wish they had noticed. Whether it’s because they would have liked to know me better at the time or feel they could reap the benefits of that knowledge now, I’m not sure. I’ve never made the effort to be noticed, and I’ve actively put effort into avoiding the spotlight. Discretion has always been my specialty and I honestly don’t think that’s changed in recent times.
I just find it interesting that the same line has been played and replayed in my life over the past several months. It really makes me wonder what’s changed. Have I been transformed from some homely little bird to a beautiful swan? Have I reached a place where I understand myself well enough to confidently convey who I am in both an accurate and appealing way? Have people simply grown up and changed their mentality?
I walk into every social interaction hoping for two things: companionship and/or the acquisition of knowledge. Thankfully, many of my friends fall into the same category; however, it seems that most people are looking for one of the following: casual sex, settling down ASAP, or being set up with someone who can offer them one of the first two options. I am flattered that you think I’m [cute/smart/funny] and I admire (yet, do not appreciate) your persistence in begging me to make out with you, but I don’t think you realize just how transparent your intentions are or how off-putting that transparency is.
Sometimes I really miss being that inconspicuous little duckling.