“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.” ― Frida Kahlo
Reading this quote, I found a kindred spirit in Frida Kahlo. I found a friend. I found myself understood. And that’s not just because of the obvious ways one might feel a kinship with Frida’s feelings, expressed so intricately here.
The obvious meaning of Frida’s words is, well, obvious. She feels “strange”, “bizarre”, “flawed”. But, in between her words, there is an acceptable. She’s accepting, embracing even, her strangeness. She knows herself, and she seems to be good with who she is. There’s no trace of second guessing, at least in this glorious quote.
And there’s more. Implicit in her words is a kind of deep and fundamental loneliness. She’s clearly spent some time, not only coming to terms with her own nature, but the fact that she feels a sense of being alone in the world. What I love is that her loneliness doesn’t shake her acceptance of herself or her flaws. Actually, it does just the opposite. In embracing her uniqueness, she comes to the realization that if she stands out, if she stands alone, then there ought to be others out there in this big and crazy world who also stand out in similar ways.
What I especially feel close to, though, is her yearning. She longs to reach out to another who’d understand her. She sends out a message into the world meant for the one who is also searching. She hopes to communicate with a soul who’s similar, who would get her. She seeks to sooth and encourage another, while searching to perhaps be less lonely. And I find all that so achingly beautiful.
To stand alone, even when among many; to never feel a sense of belonging; to see oneself as a found piece of a missing puzzle; and to seek and search for another who is alike; I identify with all of it in an instinctual and fundamental way.
This quote struck a chord with me especially because of the last part. That’s because, much like Frida and ever since I can remember, I’ve had times when I focus on something universal and send a mental message out to anyone who may also be searching for another to stand out with. On the eve of a new school year, I’d stay awake, looking up at the moon, imagining my “missing piece” looking up at the moon at the same time. I would send out a message: “if you’re out there, if you’re feeling like me, if you’re lonely, flawed, strange and unique, know that I am out here and I am feeling the way you are”. Then I’d make a wish to meet this person, maybe in school or on the playground or on the street. Every major beginning or milestone of my life has had a similar ritual to this day. From leaving my country at 13, to moving to the U.S. at 15, to moving away from Texas to Michigan and then to Califirnia, to starting law school, to taking the bar exam, to micarrying a baby I loved so much again and again, and to each and every painful fertility treatment: I send a message, I seek my match and I search for someone who’s strange and broken in the ways I am.
These days, I’m acutely aware of not fitting in. I wake up, feeling maladjusted. I go about my days, feeling ridiculously different. I exist, feeling like an alien. I might as well be extraterrestrial, I feel so very strange and “other than”. And, although I have lived my life loving my strangeness and priding myself on dancing to the beat of my own drum, what I’m feeling right now is so heavy and painful. It’s felt as though I’ve lost my sense of self, as well as my pride of being unlike everyone else I know. And it’s seemed like I’ve lost my hope for ever finding someone like me out there.
But Frida Kahlo’s words brought me back to my center and the core of who I am. It helped me remember how glorious it is to embrace one’s flaws and unique qualities, even if those include being broken and infertile. And, finally, it brought back my yearning and my hope that there is another out there who would benefit from knowing that I exist, that I’m here, and that I’m also strange, flawed and bizarre in the same ways. Someone who would want to know me, too.
Simply put, “… I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”