Monday, January 9, 2012

Freak by Design

I have always been drawn toward the freaks of the world. I’m not talking JoJo the circus sideshow boy, but the revolutionaries, the iconoclasts, those rebels who fly their freak flag by conscious choice. I am still afflicted with awe-like admiration for those who dare to stand out as an extension of their unflappable individuality.

ABC Family's Jane By Design, 2012 (they had me at mohawk - or is that more of a fashionhawk?) and Pretty in Pink,1986. Freaks still provide important messages about being yourself.

One of my biggest regrets from high school is that I was too self-conscious to explore my inner freak. I never wanted to fit in, but I was terrified of standing out. So, I remained invisible, timidly ogling those green-haired, mohawked, chain-wearing gods and goddesses of nonconformity from afar.

From time to time, in high school and even in college, I attempted to be like everyone else. I’d don the popular labels, flip up my collars and go forth into the world…only to feel like it was October 31st. I wanted kelly-green Chucks, rips and holes, plaids, chains and piercings. The kicker is my mom was as lenient a single parent as a kid could hope for—so the only thing standing in my way was me. I was a coward.

Perhaps that’s why I still harbor undying, quasi-unnatural gratitude toward John Hughes. Mr. Hughes celebrated the freaks by design. Through movies, he told us it was okay to swim against the masses. His characters made us feel valued and important. More importantly, there was no conformity among his freaks; each character was unique and superior. 

"You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions."
But John saw more...
As a writer, I draw a lot of inspiration from the John Hughes Universe creating characters that are individual, vibrant and always left of center.

These days, I don’t let anyone else dictate who I am or who I’m not. I fly my inner freak flag proudly. But I regret not exploring who I wanted to be and getting to know that girl earlier in life. Maybe if I had, I’d have learned sooner what Mr. Hughes knew: that true individuality comes from that unique and superior spark within the soul that, while hidden at times, cannot be extinguished.

So unfurl that freak flag and wave it proudly!


Over The Rhine - "Happy With Myself"

YOUR TURN: Did you have a strong sense of self in high school? If you could go back, what is one thing you would do differently?


Melissa Landers said...

Great post, Carey! I didn't really have a strong sense of identity in high school. If I could go back, I'd explore more sports and activities. I was too afraid of rejection to try out for anything.

Tonya Kappes said...

That's great, Carey!! Fly that freak flag because you are beautiful inside and out!! I didn't really go with the crowd in high-school. I was just nice to anyone and everyone. . .I even talked to anyone and everyone...Got Most Talkative out of the class. Imagine that!

CareyCorp said...

@melissa - I think a lot of teens suffer from lack of identity. Glad to see that's changed.

@Tonya LOL! You are one of the nicest, sweetest, most genuine people I know. Thanks for chiming in.

Lorie Langdon said...

Excellent post, Carey! In high school, as I've shared on this blog, I also tried to be as invisible as possible. But after HS, I'd had enough of blending in, so when I went to an ubber preppy college where everyone shopped at the Gap and listened to James Taylor (really? James Taylor was an old man by the time I was in college!) I dressed in candy striped leggings and paired them with shirts that had a see-through bottom half. This strategy didn’t get me a lot of dates with the Oxford-set, but hey, at least I have some fun pictures I can look back and laugh at. :D

And Carey, I imagine you were always an individual, even without the green chucks. ;-)

Jo Ramsey said...

Freaks FTW!

I didn't have a strong sense of self in high school. Because of bullying and other incidents in my life, my self-esteem was pretty much in the sewer. But I was still a freak, and proud of it. I wanted designer clothes; I thought if I looked like the popular kids, maybe they'd accept me. Since my parents wouldn't pay for clothes like that, I went to the other extreme, buying random things at thrift shops or bargain department stores. One of my favorite outfits was a Monkees Reunion Tour T-shirt, worn with a shiny silver hip-length jacket that was supposed to go with a homecoming dress I never wore, black calf-length leggings, and red fingerless gloves. And my one green, one yellow Chuck Taylors.

I used the clothes I wore and things I said and did to cover up the fact that I wanted to "belong." I figured since my schoolmates weren't likely to let me into their cliques, I would just act like I didn't give a you-know-what.

Jennifer McAndrews said...

ooh, tough question, Carey. I think I did possess a strong sense of self in high school, but I was afraid to show it, if that makes sense. I knew who I was, and who I was wouldn't fit in, and different wasn't well received. It changed when I got to college, where I totally embraced my 80s culture *VBG*

Mandy Millett said...

Carey I think you stood out in your own way. You were in the choir and drama. You hung with the "freaks" like me and Carina. I hope that you would have felt welcomed by those of us that bucked the treads ( or in reality, set the treads). It was not an easy path to take but looking back I was glad I expressed myself.

Athena Grayson said...

Wellll...I was a freak in school, and I paid for it sometimes. People want to stuff you into a neat little pigeonhole, and if you won't fit, a locker will do. Back then, "goth" wasn't nearly as universally known or defined (dagnabit, when I was gothy, we didn't have Hot Topics with pre-made black lace dresses--we had to steal our grandma's tablecloths and dye 'em ourselves! Get off my lawn! :P )

Biggest thing I remember is that outside of school, people still want to stuff you in a pigeonhole, and if you're bucking trends and refusing to fit the mold, you've already got a leg up with experience. Suffering through it in high school builds up your resistance to conformity later in life. Gives you experience in thinking outside the box. Or inside small, dark spaces like lockers. ;)

Kimberly said...

I think I did have a strong sense of self, but I wouldn't say that it made me less apprehensive. I remember stressing strong over little things. I don't think that changes. I think even the kids who seem to have it together merely pretend half the time. :-)
I, too, have always loved John Hughes films. I've also loved all the underdog movies.
One of my favorite movies was Dead Poet's Society. I loved Robin Williams character. I loved how he had them march to their own beat. How they all ended up marching in step with each other instead. A powerful lesson. To this day, I get teary eyed when I think of that movie. "Captain, my Captain!" Oh, I salute that movie. I need to go get it.
But, thanks for a great post.
Carey, you can always fly your freak flag with me! You know that. :-)

CareyCorp said...

Wow! I need to catch up here:

@Lorie –I want pictures!

@Jo – Sorry you had to go through that. Different is so much more fun than fitting in, isn’t it?

@Jen – It would be hard to imagine you w/o a strong sense of self. LOL! You are amazing – I’m glad you stopped hiding it.

@Mandy – Yes, I hung with you guys, but I had freak envy the whole time! You and Carina were awesome! And you both had awesome hair – I wanted to do something original with mine but I was too afraid it would make me stand out. You were trailblazers - like something straight out of a John Hughes movie. I was that extra in the gym scene!

@Kim –I adore you. I’ll watch Dead Poet’s society with you any time!