Change the way you think with an "Ode to the Oddballs"

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A group of University of Colorado Boulder students are commemorating "oddballs" by creating a "Change the Way You Think" Tumblr page, providing an open forum for anyone to read or post personal stories (referred to as an "ode to the oddballs") with the topic of prejudice. Their mission statement: "If we can change just one person's opinion, or even just make you all think before you judge, our goal will be complete. So post away everyone!"

Why? Because Boulder has a reputation for being open-minded and CU student Thomas Gracie, creator of makeonepersonsmile.tumblr.com, says he wants Boulderites to live up to that reputation by sharing their personal quirks.

Here's my own ode to the oddballs (full disclosure -- I'm a CU student):

Walking through the pedestrian underpass by College Avenue and Broadway in Boulder, and stepping onto the CU campus is like walking onto a stage. The stage lights (or in this case, the Colorado sun) is shining way too brightly and everyone can see everything.

I can't help but get hit with stage fright. I start drilling myself with commands: Play it cool, fix your hair, oh man, I really hope I don't run into _____, because I haven't showered. And I'm in my gym clothes! What was I thinking? Who am I? I have no friends, because no one is walking with me to class. Kylie, you're LAME. Now take a bow.

The CU students do not respond with an approving clap or a standing ovation; they walk briskly on by with their seemingly beautiful lives.

And then the stage music (or in this case, my iPod headphones) kicks in to drown out those thoughts that go way back to second grade when I peed my pants in front of a bunch of eight-year-olds -- an age when you're supposed to be mature enough to manage your bladder.

Gracie describes this insecurity as "the awkward, sore-thumb perception" we acquire from our earliest childhood years. Those early years of non-conformity, before we knew there was such a thing as conformity.

"We forgot our gym clothes, we brought our antiquated lunchboxes to middle school, we wore the wrong jersey on playoff week, and we squished a multitude of good first impressions," Gracie continues. "These are the kind of feelings we muse about when we can't fall asleep. Some experience this sour taste in their mouths every day. Their cultures, beliefs, quirks and qualms move them to choose their personality over their conformity."

To contribute your own "ode to the oddballs" or to read other stories, check out the Tumblr site.

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