A little too different. A little too sensitive. A little too outspoken. A little too weird. She reads a little too much.
As I got older the 'little' dropped off, leaving me with 'Too'.
Too stubborn. Too fast. Too easily agitated. Too smart. Too happy being by herself.
Then, of course, there was the visual of me. I'm interracial. My white mom's side of the family has roots going back to New Amsterdam, my grandfather's family was actually from Holland, while my father's side boasts African American, Jamaican, Cherokee folks in their midst. Of course most Americans are descended from an interesting & beautiful blend...but as an interracial kid with freckles I felt like I always stood out in a crowd. Don't even get me started on the hair issues & insecurities...GAH.
I was shocked as a teen to hear white people say: 'you are too black'. And then, double shocker: black people saying: 'you are too white'.
To my great relief & joy, I eventually found a pack of other kids at my performing arts high school who were also 'a little too.' We had great adventures, collectively exploring being TOO EVERYTHING.
But once I graduated college, leaving the academic side of the arts, it felt like I needed exchange my 'Toos' for a new list of Things I Had "To".
I tried so desperately hard to follow, to obey, to please, to fit... because it seemed like that's what was required to succeed in the world.
But a few years ago, it occurred to me that that was a little too stupid.
I was acting like a Zebra, standing - no - hiding in a herd of horses, hoping to just blend in.
Pretty hysterical image, right?
Once my Muse sent me that thought, I started considering the metaphorical possibilities.
Zebras aren't 'a little too' anything. They are completely and irrevocable here. Can't miss them stripes. Has anyone actually ever looked at a Zebra & thought:
"Um, that's just Too Much." Anyone who ever said - out loud: "That Zebra is too black/too white", would sound like an idiot.
Interestingly, the stripes are used as camouflage when a Zebra herd is charging. The predators get confused about which Zebra to attack because all they see are a maze of lines. Also, colorblind animals can't tell the difference between a Zebra stripes & tall grass... making them invisible to those they wish to not be found by... others who wish them harm or simply would not appreciate their Zebra-ness.
Technically they are horses. But-
Nobody rides Zebras. Nobody.
After considering all these angles... I have happily accepted my Zebra-ness.
A large part of finding my voice as a writer was accepting that both I & my book are different. Which is totally & completely awesome.
So, a week before the ebook release of my debut novel, titled TRUST:
I'm trusting that the other Zebras in the world are going to find my book, even if the color-blind can't see it.
I'm trusting that I'm going to find, love & support their work as well.
There's an army of Zebra folk out there; I've met them before & I'll find them again. If you're a Zebra, that will makes you feel excited. :)
I'm trusting that when we charge together, the world will explode in a maze of lines that will be A LOT TOO GLORIOUS.
Now! In celebration of all Zebras, I want to hear about your stripes. Tell me:
What's Zebra-like about YOU?