A Pig in the Suburbs: How I Found My Normal
Once in awhile, on a chilly morning waiting for the bus to school, I would be greeted by a fluffy companion, my neighbor’s cat. My dad is allergic to cats, therefore we never had a “typical American pet”. I sometimes envied my friends’ playful dogs or cuddly cats. However, it’s not that I didn’t have a pet – I had one pet and it was Wilbur – a pig. A hypoallergenic potbellied pig. Having Wilbur was strange, and it was almost worse than having no pets at all! Wilbur wasn’t the type of pet that I could show off to my normal suburban peers. Wilbur was a pig in the suburbs. However, what I learned from him was far more meaningful.
A Not-So-Normal Pet
At first, I hated Wilbur. Partly because he was much larger than I was for most of my primary school days. I remember hanging out with my friends in the backyard, and Wilbur barreling up to me and knocking me over. Mostly though, I hated Wilbur because Wilbur was different. Wilbur stuck out like a flamethrower in a snowstorm. When I told my peers about Wilbur, their first reaction was usually disbelief. “You’re lying!” they would say with conviction. After I would show them pictures, they would usually follow the Kübler-Ross model of grief, as if a pig were as awful of an occurrence as the death of a loved one. Why couldn’t I have a normal pet like everyone else?
Finding my “normal”
I desperately chased trends to make up for what I viewed as my lack of “normal”. But then I began to realize that “normal” is a vague and unattainable construct. For instance, I was very noteworthy in middle and high school for wearing pajamas to class. Why not wear pajamas to class? Nobody could answer that question. Why not have a pig in the suburbs? My pajamas habit allowed me to get about an hour more of sleep than my peers, because I wasn’t waking up earlier in the morning to pick my outfit. This allowed me to accomplish slightly more things than my peers. I was elected as a board member of the National Youth Rights Association. I was also involved in countless clubs, including a club at a public access TV station where I learned how to operate cameras and later got an internship. Another favorite club was FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a robotics club where we built robots for competition.
I blamed Wilbur, for what in hindsight, is true of us all. We are all different. We all have a pig in the suburbs. Mine was just literal.
Why not be a pig in the suburbs?
It’s been years since Wilbur’s death (and no, we did not make him into bacon). I think the biggest thing that Wilbur gave me was my freedom to be true to my heart. I was so jealous of my peers that I didn’t realize what a wonderful pig I had until it was too late. It’s quite ironic that Wilbur was named for the pig in Charlotte’s Web, a pig trying so hard to not be eaten, only to realize the value in who they are inside. We have one life to live, so why not be a pig in the suburbs? Embrace your differences, and cherish every opportunity life gives you.
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Amethyst is a pre-engineering student at Saint Paul College in Minnesota and an alumna of FIRST Robotics Competition team 2846, the FireBears. When she is not obsessing over robots, she can usually be found doing homework, singing the songs from Steven Universe way too loudly, or being an otaku.
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