Friday, July 9, 2010

That's WEIRD!

Until I was about seventeen, I wasn't myself. I mean, I was who everyone kind of expected me to be, but I kind of failed at that. I wasn't interested in: (a) generic rap, (b) sports or (c) devilment. I kept my head down and did my work, and if I got an idea I didn't tell anyone about it. I strived to fit in, doing crazy, stupid things like listening to a band because people liked them, or buying a DS because I thought then I could be included in a group of people who had an "exclusive" club.

As I came to the end of my time in secondary school, I wasn't afraid to let people see some of the real me. I was asked a few times by first years (I was a Prefect - first years knew who I was), "Aren't you cool?" What do you say to that? I wasn't going to lie, and I wasn't going to lecture them on the meaning of the word cool. I said to them, "No, I'm not cool." They laughed, I kind of laughed, and we went our seperate ways. They asked again the next week.

See, cool by my definition is what people decide they like. Okay, someone can look cool without actually being cool (they can look cool and be cool, too, obviously). But cool implies that everyone likes what I do, that a majority of people think that what I do is what they'd like to do. I wasn't cool. I was weird.

Summer - boring. I won't bore you with the details of those few months. The most exciting thing was getting my place in college. That's it. That was my summer of 2009. It was in September that I made a few changes, though. I stopped giving a damn about what people thought of me. I didn't hide the fact that I was a writer, that I was loud and hyperactive and that I disliked sports. Actually, that's not even entirely true. I dislike soccer, and I can't watch a lot of sports because they bore me, but I like GAA. I'm just no good at it, and when I was younger, Gaelic seemed too much like soccer. In short, it was bawring.

So, I started college. I let people know I was a nerd. "I listen to music from the Internet and I watch lots of Sci-Fi. Also, every morning for the next four years that we're here, you're going to hear me say hi to some of my friends, because I'm that loud. And you'll wonder how someone can be so happy on a Monday morning."

Monday mornings... there's a fun one. Most people are severely depressed on Mondays. Not me. I go through most weekends without seeing my friends, so when Monday comes along, I'm more than happy to see them. I'm bouncing-off-the-walls, ready-to-explode giddy! This does different things for different people. Most keep a certain distance from me for the first half hour, until I've calmed down a bit. One friend and I had a thing where we'd high-five once a day instead of saying too much. I think I hurt his hand with explosive amounts of enthusiasm.

This all comes down to one thing: by general consensus, I wasn't normal. General consensus is wrong. I was normal, but I wasn't the same. A friend, the same high-five-till-you-hurt friend, has me talking about any problems I have. That's normal. It's not generally accepted - guys talking about feelings? That. Is. Ridiculous! Right? Nope. It's different, though.

Of course, I still get asked a few of the same questions in college as I did in secondary school: Why don't you drink? Did you write a book? What's it about? The answers are this: I choose not to drink. Yes, I wrote three (that was the old response; now it's Yes, I wrote four, but I haven't had a chance to use that that). It's complicated. Very complicated.

That's. Not. Normal. People want answers. They want to know what's going on. Someone not drinking is weird. If you saw me on a night out, you might not guess that I'm sober, though, because I tend to be a bit... can you guess the word? HYPERACTIVE. Wonderful stuff. But it still confuses people when they see me with a Sprite and wonder if there's Vodka in there, too. Bartenders probably get confused when I order drinks for other people, too. Like buying a mate's Guinness for him, or giving a girl a Jager Bomb to help make her night better, because she's lost her bag. Actually, I order three Jager Bombs once. That must have confused the girl behind the bar!

The book thing is more difficult to deal with. People will ask, because they'll have heard from somebody. It's a small college, so word gets around. Generally my reponse is, Did you not know that? Oh... Then they ask what the books are about. I literally cannot summarise four books in a short enough amount of time. I tried before. Someone then asked, Where do you get your ideas from? I suppose the best way to deal with that question the next time I'm asked it is to just say, In general, from the people I know here, and wave my arm around the building a bit.

I suppose it's my own fault. I could try fit in and not let anyone know the real me, but that's no fun. I'd be a carbon copy of the society I hate. I'd be drinking to satisfy other people, trying to play soccer despite the fact that I suck at it, and listening to music I can't stand. That's no way to live. I'd prefer be an enigma to people. I'd prefer be weird than be the same. That's probably because I'm a twin and look the same as someone else.

I suppose I have a new response to Aren't you cool? I probably won't ever get asked that again, but I have a response to it. What do you think? Yeah, that'd really mess with someone's head.


Written as part of Challenge 2, Normality of Summer of Writing 2010. Full details here.


Word Nerd said...

You're so cool.

Anonymous said...


Would you believe that you just described a very similar lifestyle and experience of normality from school to college that I had.

Its a funny world the way things work, where you try to be one thing but something catches your eye or ear and end up been able to gravitate towards that which was once unknown.

To be free is to follow your dreams and unshackle yourself from the many who deem the right path is to follow others. To be in touch with listening to your head, heart and instinct and acting on it is not "normal" but "right".

Thanks for sharing. :)

Anonymous said...

Paul, I am literally blown away by this piece of writing.
I mean, I knew you were an excellent writer. That becomes obvious within five minutes of speaking to you. You have this amazing ability to take everything I mean to say, or try to say and put forth precisely what I had been thinking!
This particular piece is a prime example of this ability.
I won't go into extreme detail, but I'm sure it's plain to see that I am not normal by any fifteen year-old girl's standard. I too, have tried at times to fit in and failed on quite an epic level. I never looked . . Right, when I tried to wear what was "cool" and although this "Wez" scene completely baffled me, I gave that a go too (and it ended with me in tears for most of the night). Very recently, I began acting like myself and I discovered something incredible: People like me for my abnormality. I fit in.. because I'm different.
I suppose that there must be two types of people in ths world; those who define what is "normal" and those who defy what is "normal" (whether they want to or not).

I really think you're an incredibly talented writer. I could really relate to this and it made me smile. You amaze me.
I cannot wait until one of your books becomes a phenomenon and I can turn to my friends and say "Oh, Paul Carrol? Yeah, I KNOW him. Jealous much?"

WEEELLL, sorry for being a ranting creep. As I've said on many occasions, I just find you to be extremely awesome. I realise that this comment may have been a teeny bit extreme. But hey, a *normal* comment wouldn't have been sufficient.


Paul Carroll said...

Wow... thanks for the very awesome comments! If I knew for sure who Word Nerd and Anonymous were, I'd say it right to you. Sorcha, m'dear, I'll leave you a very awesome song on your Facebook page by way of thanks. :-)

Word Nerd: I literally don't know what to say to someone who calls me cool. Seriously. :-)

Anon: That was pretty deep stuff. You are very cool for saying that.

Sorcha: Your comment is very extreme and very cool. You're not a ranting creep, you're just being your regular cool beans self. Keep being yourself and I know you'll be happy, because there are always people who appreciate you for being the way you are.