To the high school freshman who just doesn't fit in:

I was you, once. I was one of the weird kids. Not so weird that everyone went out of their way to make fun of me or avoid me, but weird enough that I just didn't fit in with everyone else. I was never particularly athletic, so I didn't fit in with the jocks. I was smart, but not nerdy enough to be relegated to that particular table in the cafeteria. I didn't fit in with the burnouts, who were in a whole other league at my school, and there wasn't really anything particularly freakish or geekish about me. The popular kids didn't really pay any attention to me, but I was okay with that. The way I saw it, high school was fleeting. Those four years were just that, and soon enough, I'd be gone, far, far away from the people I had spent the last twelve years with, marinating in various forms of public and private education.

When you're in the middle of it, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Unlike the other kids, I didn't have any friends coming into school. I spent middle school bouncing around all over the place: first when we left California for London, and then when we moved to New Jersey, and the finally, to Newtown, where I ended up all alone, singlehandedly trying to navigate high school. It wasn't long before I made a few friends. High school ensures that everyone just wants to fit in, that no one wants to stick out for the wrong reasons. Friends were easy enough to find, but it quickly became obvious that our greatest common denominator was our inability to fit in with anyone else and our lack of interest in really trying. And so we stuck together, knowing that if we were going to do this, we might as well get through the rest of high school with a few people by our side.

High school came and went. I wish I could tell you, fellow Not Fitter Inner, that it turned into this big, life-changing experience that I look back on fondly, but the whole experience was pretty transient. Or maybe it was me who was transient, just passing through those first seventeen years of my life as if they were just a big, long, uninteresting prelude to the life I lead now as an adult.

Don't get me wrong. My life now isn't exactly a page turner either, but I like to think it's pretty good. I love my job, I live in a great apartment in one of the best cities in the world, and I still stumble through relationships of all kinds. I have friends and hobbies, and living in one of the best cities in the world means that even if I had some really weird, niche interest, there's someone else out there who shares that interest, and it's only a matter of time before I run into them at some Meetup, or at Trident, where we'll fight over the last copy of How to Survive A Garden Gnome Attack: Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (And They Will).

So, you weirdo, what I'm trying to say, and rather clumsily, is: it gets better. You'll get through those four years, you'll graduate, and you'll go on to bigger and better things. You'll find your people eventually, be it in college, at work, or near the Albert Einstein section at the Mütter Museum. They're out there. You'll find your niche someday—and if you don't, then that's okay, too. You do you, and do what it takes to be happy. That's all that matters in the end.