Step away from the mothballs. You might not know it now, but the seeds have already been sown. You will find out soon enough that you’re just a little bit different from other people. Some might call you an “old soul,” that horrible term you will come to mildly detest over time as it implies you’re living in the past or, at worst, inching closer and closer to your ‘sell by’ date. Despite your best efforts, you’re not going to give a damn about most of the things your peers will obsess over. Unlike most kids growing up in the 90s, you’ll find virtual pets a waste of time. You will puzzle over friends going bananas over beanie babies. POGs? Please! And yet, you will find yourself giving each the old school try in a valiant effort to coast along with the crowd. In private, you acknowledge the fact you’re an old soul. You’re not living in the past or cocooning yourself in a false wave of nostalgia, but you appreciate what’s come before you, how it defines where you’re going and, moreover, you appreciate quality. Rather than coming home from school and flipping on the TV to watch something like Saved By The Bell, you’d rather take in that episode of I Love Lucy you recorded earlier in the day, timed perfectly to unspool within the VCR as you twiddled your thumbs during math class. Nevertheless, you just won’t be able to completely pull off your efforts to be trendy. Take it from me, that’s a very good thing.
You might get chastised by teachers the one time you let your freak flag fly by reading biographies of people long-since-dead during recess in the school yard – not for the act of reading itself, of course, but pointing out some of the spicier bits to anyone who happened to ask who or what you’re reading about. You might prefer to stand on the edge of what’s going on, taking in the scene and tucking your observations away in the event it might become useful. It’s a great skill to hone, of course, and will help your job prospects later on, but the longer you keep your freak flag under wraps, the worse off you’ll be. Everyone invariably feels the desire for conformity but it will always give way for an insatiable need for individuality. The earlier you unfurl the flag and fly it up your proverbial pole, the further ahead you will be. Fly it high and fly it proud. You will learn that there are a bunch of other people just waiting for someone to make the first move.
They will have the same interests, the same life experiences, and will lead you to finding the closest, longest, and most fulfilling friendships of your life. The sooner you embrace everything that makes you unique, the better off you’ll be.
PORTRAIT BY ANGELA DURANTE DUKÁT