Human nature really is a conundrum, don’t ya think? I mean, if we’re not desperately trying to stand out from the crowd and get recognition, then we’re trying to fit in so that we don’t get made fun of.
Well, I am one of those girls that “aren’t like other girls” and I wear that label proudly! But I didn’t always… And I certainly wasn’t one of those “girls that aren’t like other girls for the sake of attention” you see all over social media these days. You see, this has been a long process for me of feeling uncomfortable in my own skin and just learning to love myself…
Barbies or LEGOS?
Even as a little kid, I always felt different. I’d get really nice birthday gifts from my family, like all kinds of Barbies with different clothes and accessories and cute tutus and tiaras. I really liked these presents and was super excited to open them up! Just like most girls that age I guess. The problem was I only played with my new dolls for a little while on that day.
I was more drawn to my big brother’s LEGOS and Hot Wheels and getting down and dirty constructing muddy roads for them out in the yard. Barbie never really fit in with the outdoor life, and the tutus got all dirty and lost their sparkle. My parents caught on quickly and started buying me “boy” toys, and my brother and I would play for hours on end!
Clip-in earrings and plastic necklaces. Yuck!
But you know how it goes – you always have that aunt or grandparent that wants you to be more “girly” and play with “girl” toys. And there’s nothing wrong with those! All of my friends in preschool loved their Barbie dolls and play-jewelry sets. But for some reason, it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t like the feeling of those plastic necklaces on me. I didn’t like feeling the weight of the clip-in earrings on my lobes.
I just felt really uncomfortable, and at that young age, I had no idea why I felt this way. So, soon enough, I started getting the “tomboy” label and being told that this wasn’t a good thing for a pretty girl like me. Even my little preschooler brain wanted to know why there were things for boys and separate things for girls.
Why was I not a girl (after all, “tomboy” insinuates that you’re kind of a boy, right?) just because I liked climbing trees and playing with toy cars? Anyway, my school years weren’t any easier. Actually, kids can be pretty brutal and judgmental. The “tomboy” label stuck with me, and the “girly” girls didn’t seem interested in playing football and basketball with me at recess.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with that if most of the other girls weren’t into those sorts of things. I just played with my friends, and, yeah, they were mostly boys. We had fun, but I still couldn’t shake that feeling in the back of my head that there was something wrong with me…
“Tomboy” in love
And then there was high school. When my body started changing during puberty, I did start to feel a little more feminine and I guess “normal” for a girl. Plus, it was around this time when I started crushing on one of my long-time guy friends.
I had it bad for him, and I desperately wanted him to notice me among all the pretty girls in our class. I started turning on the charm and batted my eyelashes. I must’ve looked like a total idiot. Well, maybe I did because he didn’t even catch my hints. I was still “one of the guys” in his mind. He always had his eye on other girls, and I got stuck in the friend-zone. Yeah, it happens to us too!
Being in the friend-zone
So, I decided that I had to make a change and do something so that he’d notice me and ask me out! I consulted with a few of my new girl friends about what to wear and how to do my hair and makeup to draw his attention.
They were so excited to help me out! Yes, it was time for a teen sleepover, and I got completely made over! Cue the 90s high-school flick makeover montage. I’m kidding, but I know how stereotypical that sounded! Anyway, they had me looking amazing, but it was a whole different ballgame when I tried those tricks out on myself the following Monday before school.
I poked myself in the eye with the mascara more times than I can count, and I was giving off “clown” vibes more than anything! As for whether or not my new look impressed my crush, well, after one look at me and a good laugh, his only words were, “Chris, what’s that gunk all over your face?” (Oh yeah, my attempt to drop the boyish nickname and start having people call me my actual name (Christina) basically flopped.) I felt mortified. Other girls can make it look good, but I gave up right then and there…
How Christina finally found herself
I just decided that it was best for me to focus on my schoolwork and leave the dressing up to my friends. Books never hurt me the way makeup did. I even signed up for an afterschool Book Club during sophomore year, and I was finally starting to feel like I fit in among like-minded individuals.
I was surprised by the crowd at these meetings too! There were other “tomboys” like me, there were guys, and there were even “girly” girls! It was around this time that I started to understand that people are just people. I’d always thought that girls who love makeup and dresses only cared about gossip and crushing on boys.
They couldn’t possibly be bookworms, could they? I guess what I’m saying is, we’re all different in a way. So, why worry about all the labels when you can just be yourself and do what you love? And that’s exactly what I did going into my college years. Maybe it was because of my childhood pastime of playing with LEGOS and building dirt roads for my brother’s toy cars, but I ended up going into civil engineering.
I wanted to plan buildings and roads for real now! And, yeah, this is a traditionally masculine field. I think I read one statistic that almost 90% of civil engineers are men. Mind-blowing, right? And I could see it in my classes too – I was one of very few women in the whole department! But I was on the path to doing what I love, and that’s exactly what I do today! Walking around the construction site of a building that I helped create feels incredible!
And you know I rock those steel-toed boots and hardhat like a boss! I thought that I’d have a hard time being taken seriously in a man’s field, but I can say that my coworkers and bosses have real respect for me. But perhaps that’s because I’m just so good at what I do, not to toot my own horn or anything!
…and married a nurse
Sure, it was a little tough at first, but I feel like that’s the case with any fresh college grad coming into the job market. I mean, my husband dealt with the same thing after nursing school. Oh, yeah, that’s right! This oddball “tomboy” met a guy that really understands where I’m coming from.
Like I said, he’s a nurse, so a large majority of his coworkers are women. He had the same thing growing up, trying to fit in with the boys even though he always loved playing doctor with his sister’s dolls. When you think about it, it’s kinda crazy how two people like us would find each other, isn’t it? I think that just goes to show you that the traditional “male” and “female” stereotypes are fading away.
So if you feel different from others in your social group, don’t let it get you down! I’m sure you’ll do great things as long as you learn to love and accept yourself just the way you are!
So, have you ever experienced anything like this while navigating your way through life? Perhaps you’re going through it right now? Feel free to share your story down in the comments! And don’t forget to rate this article “I’m not like most girls, and you?” by Bright Side and share it with your friends!
Credit: Bright Side