At the beginning of second grade, I was just beginning to realize that I was different. The girls in my class were preoccupied with unicorns and fairies and wearing pretty dresses, and while I loved those things as well, my one true love was reading. I spent all of my time in the library, sitting cross-legged between the stacks. I started out small, reading books from the recommended reading lists that my mother printed off the internet. After a while, however, I got tired of reading The Magic Tree House and Junie B. Jones and longed for something new.
If you ask most people my age, they’d describe the Animorph book series as “those weird books where the kids turn into gorillas.” To me, however, they were so much more. After I read my first Animorph book, it was like I was seeing colors I’d never before known existed! My entire world exploded into vibrant technicolor. There are more than 100 books in the series, and after I picked up the first one, I didn’t stop until I finished all of them AND their spin-offs. Animorphs became an escape for me, a place for me to run when the other kids didn’t want to talk to me, which was more often than not. The kids in the Animorph books went on wild adventures and battled aliens and still found time to finish up all of their homework. In short, they were EVERYTHING I’D EVER WANTED TO BE.
I’ve always known that Animorphs has had a huge impact on my childhood, but I’d forgotten just how great until the other night. I was looking through some of my old journals and I found something that caught my eye: a forest green notebook labeled “DO NOT LOOK THAT MEANS YOU MOM” in a crooked, childish scrawl. I flipped through it, and found page after page of ANIMORPH FAN FICTION. I’d completely forgotten about it! I think years and years of abuse at the hands of my peers had caused me to repress the memories. After all, there’s a very fine line between “normal” and “weird AF” and I’m pretty sure Animorph fan fiction is on the wrong side of it.
I’ve been having a hard time lately. All of my friends have moved away, and it’s been difficult making new connections with people at my college (probably because I do things like write Animorph based fan fiction). I thought I’d moved past all of those feelings of loneliness and insecurity, but as I flipped though my journal, I felt like that little girl in second grade all over again: awkward and filled with social anxiety. At the same time, however, I felt hopeful. I thought back over the last couple of years, the years that have shaped who I am today. I made so great memories and I found friends who were also a bit…offbeat to share them with; friends who still bother to talk to me even though they live hundreds of miles away. Both of those things mean far more to me than a few dirty looks I got in elementary school.
I’m probably still that little girl in second grade in all the ways that count, but now I’m starting to think that’s not such a bad thing.
ALSO: WHO WANTS TO JOIN MY ANIMORPH BOOK CLUB??? THIS IS NOT A DRILL, PEOPLE.