The teenage years are an age when many of us are so malleable, because our need and desire to fit in, usually overwhelms our flimsy self-confidence. A glance, the hint of a sneer can shatter the frail shell of acceptance of who we are within ourselves.
I've always been a little odd. In my teens I kind of embraced my differentness because there was no-one else that impressed me enough to want to change to be like them.
It wasn't until I was in my mid twenties that I began to fully accept myself, and to really begin to grow in assuredness. It was also the time when I became a Christian and was reassured by God's acceptance of me, despite my past or my own personal flaws.
Now that I'm in my forties, while still far from perfect, I no longer need the approval of others to know my own value. I've come to terms with the fact that I am a little on the quirky side, but it was at a recent function that I realised that my entire family must also be a little strange.
Over the weekend, my sister-in-law threw a surprise 50th birthday party for my brother. My younger brother and two sisters, along with my mother, my father, a couple of aunts, uncles and several offspring were in attendance, as well as friends of my brother and his wife.
Early on in the evening the hostess discovered that the fuse would blow whenever the CD player and the food warmer were used at the same time. Since there was no music, my brother brought out his guitar and our family began to sing some older songs from the 70s.
It wasn't long before we noticed that everyone that wasn't a member of our family, had left the room and congregated outside on the lawn. We all laughed about chasing them away with our music.
A little later we went outside to take some family photos, and everyone else that had been outside before us, went back inside again.
"Mmmm," I thought to myself, "Perhaps I'm not really that weird after all. Perhaps my entire family is." The thought gave me a strange sense of belonging.
After the family photos were taken, we went back inside and sat down, and once again, a good sized crowd that wasn't in our family left the room again.
While it's true that one of my older relatives did smell strongly of mothballs, I don't think we can blame their reaction on that!