So, tell me, are you normal? Are you a square peg that fits perfectly and happily into that square hole? Or, are you like me, a round peg that’s been trying to fit into the square hole all of your life? First, it’s parental pressure, then peer pressure, then school pressure and then finally the all-important societal pressure that makes us believe that square normal is the only normal. I fell for that early in my life but with every year that has passed, I’ve discovered that being a round peg is pretty cool. It’s allowed me to approach life in different ways and to not ignore paths that might have seemed strange otherwise. I’ve acted impulsively, experimented, made mistakes, corrected those mistakes, then made new mistakes but I’ve learned so many things and met so many different and wonderful people that I probably would have never encountered on that square path. I knew from a relatively early age that I wasn’t like most people that I knew. My home life was a bit chaotic and it did affect emotionally. I was somewhat of an introvert that could be outgoing under the right circumstances. I was very introspective with an active imagination. I entertained myself with worlds and people that I created and tended to live more in those worlds than the real one. They were more welcoming and understanding, of course, since I invented them. I wrote letters to imaginary people and answered those letters. I kept a diary that was part fact and part fiction. I never shared any of this with anyone because, even at a young age, I knew that it wasn’t what anyone would consider normal. It was definitely not square peg behavior. As I got older, I realized that if this behavior were discovered, people, parents included, would think of me as odd, if not downright mentally impaired, so I stopped most of it. I still invented worlds and people but I didn’t interact with them any longer. I moved on to writing poetry and short stories. I honestly don’t remember ever sharing any of my writing with my family. I doubt that I did because I didn’t always feel especially nurtured or valued. Don’t get me wrong, my parents loved me but throughout my childhood, my mother favored my younger brother in every possible way to the point that I sometimes felt that she didn’t even love me. My dad owned a construction company and would usually leave the house before I woke up and work until the sun went down, ate dinner, read the paper, watched the news, and then went to bed. We’d spend time together on the weekends but I don’t think that he really understood me and I can’t lay all the blame on him for that because I wasn’t the most forthcoming child. As I got older and learned more about them, I really did understand that they did the best that they could with us. They both grew up during the depression on farms so it was a hard life and there were a lot of kids in both families. They showed their love for us in other ways. We never wanted for anything. Christmases were amazing as were birthdays. They paid for college and cars and helped with down payments on our first houses. After we were both married, they’d gift us with cash. After my divorce when I was working a full-time job and 2 part-time jobs to just pay my bills, they helped me with car repairs, a deposit on a rental house, and various other things. So, yeah, they did love me but they weren’t the best at demonstrating it emotionally until we were all much older. So, I kept my creative side hidden and protected from everyone. Maybe that was because I was a round peg in a square peg world and didn’t think that anyone would understand or place any value on my creativity. Maybe it was because of my introversion. I never wanted to be the center of attention which also made me odd peg out in my family because they were all extremely extroverted and my dad and brother were very talented musicians that loved to be center stage. The problem, I think, is that our society places more value on intellectual abilities and aspirations than it does on creative abilities so the majority of people don’t know how to really appreciate or even acknowledge their child’s creative abilities and aspirations. And, as children, we’re taught to learn and excel in subjects that don’t feed us creatively so we sense our roundness and everyone else’s squareness and everyone’s square expectations so we bury our creativity to protect it and try to keep it round. I spent too many years trying to force my round peg self into that square hole and I’m tired of it. I am a round peg and I will NEVER fit into that square hole. For now, I have to work in a square peg job to support my round peg aspirations but I have other plans for my life and I have the support and understanding that I need now to make an all-out effort to implement those plans. So get out of my way…round peg comin’ thru!
“When you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” ~ Maya Angelou