I always felt different when I was a kid, the one who didn’t fit in. And even into adulthood, come to think of it. The one whose clothes weren’t quite right, not like everyone else was wearing; the one who didn’t hang with the gang, didn’t like the same stuff as everyone else, couldn’t make small talk about the things that everyone else talked about, couldn’t make small talk at all, had no nous, no savoir faire.
But I wasn’t the kind of different that had everyone looking at me. I was the kind of different that rendered me invisible, unnoticed, passed over. I would pipe up to finally contribute something to a conversation, and it would be as if I had not spoken. Yes, I know I have a soft voice, but not that soft: not so soft that no-one thinks I’ve said a word. But that’s how everyone reacted — with a total lack of reaction, as if I didn’t exist. It wasn’t as if they did it pointedly to be nasty; they just genuinely didn’t notice me. I didn’t register.
When did I get over that? Somewhere in my twenties. There were individuals who noticed me, and I did have friends, but we were the outsiders, the weird ones, the daggy ones. At some point it changed. It was when I decided I didn’t want to be like the rest of them anyway.