One thing I know for sure: You will either love me, or hate me.
I’ve learned from experience that when it comes to the people around me, there is never any in-between. Funny though…my haters almost always circle back and attempt to reconnect with me, often years later. I like to think that proves that I was never really hate-worthy; that perhaps it was more their own self-hatred than something I did. Anyway.
I started thinking about haters when I recently began reading The Truth About Style by Stacy London of What Not to Wear fame (it has been out for several years but I’m just getting around to it). I flipped through the first couple pages of the book and got to her dedication page, and then I read this:
TO ALL MY HATERS:
YOU MADE ME THE SMART BITCH I AM TODAY.
And I thought: Stacy, now I just love you even more.
And then I thought: Have my haters made me a smart bitch too?
Hmmm. I think so.
Haters? Why? Well, I’ve always been a black sheep.
From childhood, and that generates a lot of haters. People don’t like people that they can’t label/fit into a box/predict/totally understand. They don’t like people who dare to be bold, unapologetically.
It started as early as junior high and high school. I was awkward, ugly, and skinny. I wore a retainer and glasses. I had a massive, and I mean massive schnoz.
I never fit in with the popular people; I wasn’t a jock or a total nerd either. My grades were good and mostly, I didn’t get in trouble, so I couldn’t even be lumped into the troublemaker category. There was no place or group for me, though later, I leaned toward the alternative/goth peeps, mostly because they just accepted me as I am. But I didn’t even fully fit in with them since I was Greek-American, with strict Greek parents and weird Greek cultural and religious customs. And as I’ve written before, I didn’t really fit in with the Greeks because I wasn’t olive skinned, but freckled and WHITE, and my parents weren’t super Greek…they actually let me go to prom and have a boyfriend. And we didn’t go to Greece every summer like them.
I was just me, and there wasn’t really anyone like me. I was a misfit.
I knew pretty wasn’t a currency available to me (thanks, Jamie Ross), so I studied diligently, early. I learned you can’t always choose how you look on the outside, but you can choose who you want to be on the inside.
When my entire Sunday school class (20-25 kids…I can’t remember) reached high school graduation and had a collective party, I was not invited to participate, as either an honoree or attendee (very Christian, right?), so my parents threw me my own party at my beloved uncle’s restaurant. It hurt a little, but I learned that being deliberately left out by adults is even more immature than being left out by your peers. I learned that elegant people take the higher road and don’t go out of their way to make people feel excluded.
I passed college with honors and hit the “real world.” Was let go from my first “real job” and that propelled me back to college and through a Master’s degree…that most of those Sunday school classmates never obtained.
Had my heart broken and was told by an ex-boyfriend that no one would ever really love me, and then I met a real man and learned what love really is, and what it isn’t. Had “friends” with perfect lives who wore their Christianity like a badge (while telling me to eff off)…then I watched as their perfect marriages imploded in their faces. I learned that there is more grace in a humble admission than lying through a stiff upper lip. I learned that the grass is absolutely not greener.
I stayed the course, paid my dues, took risks, rewrote my own future, was never vindictive—but never forgot. And here I am today…happy. Smart(er).
So to my haters, I say: You made me the smart, conTENT/CONtent bitch I am today. Thanks. Mwah.
P.S.: Read the book. It’s not like any style book you’ve ever read, and if you like Stacy London, you will love it.
P.P.S.: Have your haters made you smarter, too?