In one of my first classes at uni, the lecturer asked us who our childhood hero was. As we went round the room, it was depressingly identikit. "My mum"..."my mum". Now I love my mother, since I stopped being a teenager we've become almost friends, and there are few things I won't talk to her about. But while I think she's great, I also have this slight fear of being boring. So I said "Dangermouse!" Well it got a laugh. But who wouldn't want to be a spy and have a car that flies and also works as a submarine?
Truthfully, while I did love watching the antics of the rodent secret agent and his bumbling sidekick Penfold, he wasn't much of a hero to the child me. I wanted to be Jo from Little Women, fiesty and determined, or Roald Dahl's Matilda, with her super powers, I desperately wanted to stop being a victim and teach the bullies a lesson. Or Anne of Green Gables. All of these bright young girls were readers (and in Jo and Anne also writers) and I loved my books, and telling stories.
I was a weird, insular kid, safer in libraries than playgrounds. An easy target I suppose. But in my head I was something stronger, someone they'd never pick on. There's a saying that used to really annoy me "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger", if it's meant to be supportive or encouraging it didn't feel like it. Same goes for "sticks and stones..." but when you're being mercilessly picked on, being called names all the time, it doesn't feel like it'll ever get better. It has.
I am a stronger person than I was back then. It took me a long time to learn to trust people, to see that some people truly can be your friends and won't hurt you to amuse others. Yes, I've been burned by friends since then, but I have learnt something every time.
My teenage years were not entirely happy, who's are, but I found new heroes (Buffy for one, kicking the monsters butts was something I often felt like!) and learned to accept my inner weirdo. I'm ok with myself. I'm not perfect, and there are things I'd like to change, there probably always will be, but I'm learning to live with myself.
I've crawled out of the darkness that threatened to overwhelm me at times, and I've let go of the anger I felt for so long at the way I was treated, for the so-called crime of being different, of daring to try to be myself.
I wish I could tell all the children growing up now, who stick out, who prefer reading to football or playing endless games of kiss chase or whatever's the current obsession, the ones who want to know more than what's contained in the playground fence, it'll be ok one day, I promise. You'll look back, you may not laugh, but you will look back, and you'll see that everything you've overcome, everything you've worked so hard to be has made you, you. Unique and wonderful.