It’s 1998, and I’m a freshman in college. While I always had great friends, I never really fit in anywhere, because my interests didn’t really jive or form a cohesive personality trope. My roommate was nice but not super friendly, my hockey team would rather haze me than chit-chat, and this newly-minted extravert didn’t know where to turn her massive amounts of energy. So obviously the right move was to join a sorority, right? Surely someone there must be like me.
Everyone was introducing themselves, talking about their favorite Dave Matthews songs or who they were currently shipping on “Dawson’s Creek,” and then it came to my turn. I had so many things to talk about! Where to begin? I just opened my mouth and rambled my glorious truth. “Hey! I’m Amanda, and I love ‘X-Files,’ fantasy books, Japanese food, goaltending, and don’t even get me started on the Oxford Comma!”
Crickets. For like, a full minute. One girl spoke up. “I want her on my Trivial Pursuit team.”
Awkward at first, but you know what? College was just fine ― I’d get my competitive side satisfied at hockey practice even though I was way out of my league playing as a backup backup goalie at a D1 school, then I’d hit up the Anime Club and get caught up on “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” then go to a frat party with the girls and find the one brother there who could speak elvish after five Zimas. It really wasn’t bad. In fact, I look back on those years fondly, but it sort of set up a narrative that stuck with me for years: They may like you, but they’re not like you.
Years went by, and something shifted a bit when I became a mom. Sometimes making friends was easy: Hey. I have a toddler, and you have a toddler. Let’s watch them crawl around together and commiserate about how much we hate Caillou! Other times, it was hard. I’d formed a number of friendships with my older children’s friends’ moms when they were in preschool, but then I had two babies later in life, and I got left by the wayside because I couldn’t go out or make plans like they could.
I tried to tame my oddball passions so I could fit in and be included more. I stopped dying my hair fun colors, and I kept my video game references to a minimum. I bought expensive shoes where the brand was blatantly obvious so we’d have an instant point of reference. See? I like nice things! (I also like weird things, but you can learn about that later.) I started to quell the inner “LET’S CHAT ABOUT ‘DOCTOR WHO’” and started to just make quips about drinking wine. But it just wasn’t me.
The biggest change really occurred when I traded my career as an English teacher for a video game writer. This fully outed me, and I traded my cute pencil skirts and retro tops for yoga pants and geek tees. At this point I had four kids and a couple of jobs, and jamming my square peg into socially round holes was just exhausting. I had to promote my game, and I had to come out as full geek. Not that my geekiness was ever a secret ― hell, I cut my wedding cake with a samurai sword, so that should tell anyone who attended more than enough ― but now it was part of my identity publicly. No more “passing” as a basic. Not even with a PSL and a fly pair of boots.
I wasn’t terribly happy with this social situation, and with work and children, I slipped further into an antisocial existence, which is totally not me. I was really getting lonely at home, and talking to my babies about what was happening on “Game of Thrones” was just not happening.
So, I kinda got spiritual. I’d been finding new interests in yoga and eating (nearly) vegan, and I had a stack of powerbeads up my arm a mile long. This opened up a lot of new conversations and a lot of new friendships and a boatload of confidence in my eccentricities. I finally let go of the narrative that I was an outsider and just sort of felt like I was good at being an insider in a whole lot of separate conversations. I’m a friggin extravert to boot, and even if you aren’t familiar with ALL my interests, I’d sure as hell be able to find something in common we could chat about.
I know I’m not alone in my oddball nature, too. My agent (oh yeah, I also write books) and I were joking that I was a unicorn, and while that felt like a much better label than weirdo, it didn’t fit. Unicorns were too mainstream. Too accessible. I remembered back to my years as a high school teacher and how one of my classes was so unique, they had labeled themselves Pegacorns. A rad, righteous pegasus-unicorn hybrid that could fly and joust with anything in its way.
Yup, I’d just rebranded myself. I’m a #PegacornMom. In fact, I just started a Pegacorn Mom Facebook group, and it’s pretty much just me running around in circles, but that’s okay. I know there are others like me who don’t make sense in the “mom tropes” videos (I used to think I was the Hot Mess Mom, but she wasn’t as eccentric) and who don’t wear matching tee shirts on their girls nights out.
Last night I reveled in my Pegacorn-ness. Earlier in the week, I’d lamented a bit when I saw pretty much every mom friend I know attending this country music show. I hate country music with a burning passion, but they all looked so adorable with their curled hair and concealed liquor, and part of me wanted to go do that. Then I realized I’d be muffling my ears and staring into my thermos of rose wondering if Jaime Lannister was really going to kill Cersei or not.
So instead, last night, I donned my eyeliner and black nail polish and danced my ass off at a Green Day concert instead. (Haha, just kidding! I didn’t have time for makeup. I wore my Lulus and a “Legend of Zelda” tee.)
And that’s fine. Cool, even! I can shine my light at yoga and then revel in my dark emo kid. I can play video games with my boys and also slick on a coat of lipstick and hit the VS Semi-Annual Sale.
Show your own kids who you are, weirdo Pegacorn Moms. Don’t worry that they’ll be outcasts or antisocial because if they see YOU being happy being yourself, they’ll be more likely to let their own freak flags fly.
You be you, I’ll be me, and let’s all be friends.