For as long as I can remember, I was different. Not in a bad way, I just felt like I always stuck out somehow.
However, when you are young you don't embrace you differences, you somehow seem to disgrace them. I tried to hide the fact that I was different… but my uniqueness was an incandescent light that just seemed to bellow out of me.
Remembering back to when I was in preschool, I loved to learn and I'd bring home pictures to color and tell my mom that it was very important homework I was doing, like she'd actually believe me. You know, I don't really remember having friends but I don't remember not having any either.
The tears of bullying came later on when words hurt…much more then a shove. I was shy and, my only fear was not to succeed. And in the 3rd grade, you must realize that your success is measured by your friends.
I was the tom-boy type, I liked the dirt, I liked the bugs, I like the blood, I liked the clothes and boy did I like sports…unfortunately I wasn't gifted with the tom-boy body instead I had a little stick figure body unable to be, 'one of the boys'.
This weakness was noticed and that weakness was picked on. I would come from school crying and wishing I was, the most popular girl in school. But fearing the disapproval of the student body, I stayed the same. I never let my true self be shown. Probably because I had no idea who my true self was.
What was I good at? Nothing! Was I ever going to find "my thing"? I began to doubt it.
My only other true love in elementary school was music, dance and theatre. I would try out every year for whatever little play the school put on and wished & prayed that I was casted as the lead, heck, even casted at all would be nice, but I got nothing.. with the exception of the one time when my mom called the school and I think out of pitty I was cast as a turkey.
Uh-huh A BIG FAT STUPID TURKEY! Yeah, yeah, I know. How humiliating is that? But I got to say, it was awesome to me. Any my love for the arts I still keep close to my heart today, but still, I was waiting to be discovered. Somehow, I knew I had the potential to be more than a turkey!
Then, the middle school days came. I was both fearful and eager, fearful of my past fate But eager to change, new image, new start and new friends.Yep, here it is. This is my chance! Here I come! Course that didn't really work out as I hoped.
I got to say, to this day, that the 6th grade was the very worst year of my childhood. I had not one friend. It was heart wrenching and so awful. Those I placed my trust in abandoned me, those I had spent endless summer days with, riding bikes, kool-aide stands, they now laughed at me. What was going on?
And let me tell you, they were not above pushing my lunch tray to the floor. I was a walking mockery. This could have very well killed me however, later that year I found my life support, the one thing that gave me confidence, and made me glad to be who I was, who I am, and strong enough to not give a care what those at my school thought.
I told my mother I wanted to try out for a local play at a community theater. At the moment that I mentioned this, she was in sweats, on a ladder, covered in paint as she was in the middle of painting our bathroom walls. She thought it was a great idea and asked when auditions were, I told her, "in 15 minutes". For the life of me, I have no idea why she freaked out. Little paint on her face & in here hair, Big deal, ya know. Its not like she was the one auditioning afterall!
Anyhow, this was an adult show that had openings for a few children. I landed my first part in a real grown up play written by Steven Schwartz called "Children of Eden" I played a child of course. If I could pin point it exactly, that is when my life changed.
Theater changed my life, for the one time in my entire life I wasn't the bud of all jokes,I fit it! I was the one people laughed with, not at. I was funny. The cast members enjoyed my company and actually "got" my sense of humor and my differentness. I became their family, people I loved to be around were there.
When I started theater, the kids at my school didn't matter to me anymore. The things they said could never even phase me because, no longer did they matter none of them. In fact, I began to grow emotionally and they just seemed more and more shallow and immature to me everyday. As the years went on socially in school I became more confident more sure of who I was. I embraced my uniqueness. I loved that I was different.
Having confidence paid off. My own confidence in myself made people like me and want to be around me. Okay, so I wasn't the most prettiest and most popular girl in school and I admit the tom boy thing didn't really work out, I sucked at sports.
But I was Tara, I was funny, I was confident. And for some reason, that worked for me. People liked me. I was shocked.
I spent over 6 years at Lake Performing Arts Center performing in several shows. Performances every night, rehearsals until I wanted to pass out from exhaustion. I missed going on dates, I missed parties, I missed sneaking out late at night, I missed dances and even football games and to this day I would not change it, and the best thing is neither would the people who did it with me. We had a bond that you don't just find anywhere.
Sadly, my theater, my second home, closed Christmas 2003. It was a life changing event in itself because that's was my world, It seemed to be all I'd known for such a long time. The last time I was this sad was in 6th grade. After our final closing performance we had a cast party after the guests left.
We played music, danced, joked, but mostly we hugged a cried. We sang songs from shows we had been in, and laughed at each other. But we knew, our world had changed. We laughed and cried as we spray painted memories to each other on the dressing room walls. They were going to tear down OUR BUILDING.
But with most things in life you learn to move on, and you learn from the things that you felt change your life. I had a lot of time to think after the theater closed because I then I began to have medical problems.
First I got diagnosed with scoliosis. Great, now I get to play the role of the hunch-back. Yippee! Surgery fixed that. I had the rods placed in my back along my spine. You could recognize me walking down the street, I'm the one with awesome posture. So it turned out okay after all.
Then my eyes. I have a serious eye condition now called papal edema. This means blood vesels behind my eyes like to bleed now and then, although you can't see the blood, I get what I call "floaties" and it blocks part of my vision for weeks at a time.
Here I am just turned 17 this summer and I still can't drive. The eye thing got so bad last year that I had to be home schooled for the last few months of my junior year.
In my free time, I channeled my creative energy to something else, drawing, poetry, photography and even started taking up voice lessons. I guess I finally found out what I am good at.
During this time I reflected and found new things about my life that before I didn't know. I spent time on the computer creating computer art. Practicing my singing, and okay, so I'm 17…I watched some MTV, can you fault me for that?
Currently I am back in school. My senior year. I hope to go off to college next year and do something creative, journalism, commercial art, and I'm telling you, I'd be an awesome stand up comic. Friends of my parents come to visit just to hear me tell stories. I enjoy being laughed at now. The difference is that it is in a loving way.
My point in this article is to tell you a little bit about myself, my life, where I came from and how it all seems to work out in the end, whether you are a young teenager reading this or an adult.
We don't know what is in store for us. But still, it is "in store". And ya know, mostly it's all good. It all works out. Everyone one of us finds out who we are eventually.
With the help of our guiding angels or whoever is watching over us, they lead us in the right directions until we find out path. I'm not saying that I have found my path, but you know, I think now, that at the very least, I am on " a path" that quite possibly could lead me to "my path".
So to all the girls, teenagers, moms, women, and grammas out there, including those of you reading this website. Maybe we will cross paths sometime!
E-mail Tara at Tara@ClevelandWomen.Com
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