Sometimes I am hopeful that pain will cease existing I cross my fingers curl my toes and pray for the best Then I remember nights spent in bed with tears on my face wanting a break from it all On … Continue reading
About a month ago, I posted a status on Facebook saying,
“It takes courage and strength to be different; I guess that makes me both a strong and courageous person.”
The truth is, I have always felt different from people my age – often I feel like an outsider in most social circles where I am expected to “fit-in.” A good example of this traces back only a few weeks ago when I went to see the movie The Amazing Spiderman 2.
Sitting in the movie theatre with three people I know from my architecture classes (and another person who was a sister of one of the three), I couldn’t hold back my repulsion at the “high-schoolish” nature of the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy most action movies and leap at the chance to see any hero from Marvel personified on the big screen, but The Amazing Spiderman 2 just did not do it for me. The petty romance scenes, the mediocre one-liners delivered by a slightly better than average Andrew Garfield – it just wasn’t for me.
On the other hand, the people I went to see the movie with were sucked in at every scene. From the flashes of lightning at the hands of an angry and misunderstood ‘Electro,’ to the sappy “Baby, I’m leaving you for London,” scenes – these guys were hooked! I remember thinking to myself, “What about this movie is supposed to appeal to my generation?” And now as I write, I still don’t know the answer.
My “difference” really struck me when, during one of the pinnacle scenes of the movie as Gwen reluctantly tells Peter she’s decided to go to Oxford, I turned to my right and caught a glimpse of my friend’s sister at the point of tears. Immediately I thought to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Is she really crying?” News to me, my friend’s sister was emotionally moved by the teenage angst and overdone, “Oh my God how will I ever live my life without you because there is a huge plot twist getting in the way of our love,” appeal. Sitting there next to her I felt like a complete jerk – soon after came the slightest feeling of isolation.
“Am I supposed to be emotionally moved by this scene too? *Aleece is only a few years younger than me… Maybe I should be crying too.”
Ironically, I found myself letting out something closer to a chuckle at the cheeky romance of the scene – no tears from my end. And now that I think about it, I believe I was the only one laughing at that part of the movie in the theatre. I couldn’t help myself – the romance was too cliche!
When the movie finally ended, I found myself in an old, familiar place. Walking out of the theatre I asked the people I was with what they thought of the movie, testing them to see whether or not these were people I could get into deep, intellectual dialogue with. Their responses ranged from the usual, “Oh, it was alright,” to “Yea, I thought the action was good,” and “Ah! I loved everything about it.” You can imagine my disappointment. Not only was I disappointed with the fact that, judging from their responses, an intellectual dialogue was out of the question, but I was more upset because I felt out of place. What I wanted to say to my friends was, “Do you guys think critically about anything?” And, not that I thought the people I was with were complete idiots – they are actually smart people individually. It was the fact that they are intelligent people capable of saying much more than, “The mediocre content of The Amazing Spiderman 2 sparked my 20 year-old interests and I cannot be stimulated past what is supposed to appeal to me.”
My frustration with my friends that day represents an isolated situation that embodies my feelings toward most of the people in my generation. My outsider-ness is fueled by a number of experiences, most of them hurtful, with a generation that is all too caught up in the here-and-now and “YOLO” – a license to do anything stupid and harmful to yourself because You Only Live Once. Time after time, I have been that girl at a party with shorts too short, drinking down my insecurities, trying to convince myself that YOLO and the here-and-now moments were the only way to get through the struggles of youth. I have been that girl dragged to a party, guzzling down shot after shot with my friends in an attempt to forget the things that pain me because I thought, “This is what people my age do.”
On the flip-side, I have also been the person that even while drunk, stumbling and trying to move my hips to reggaeton, I knew my life was worth more than the “hype.” That drinking it up, partying it up, comparing hang-over stories with friends – that was not the person I wanted to be. And, the moment that I decided I did not want to merely “get-by” in life, sidelining my problems, living for the next party or the next drink I could get my hands on, the isolation I felt from my peers was stifling. I went from being the party girl, “down for whatever”, to being the “prude” – the person people asked, “Wait, why don’t you drink again?”
For a while during my junior year of college, I felt like I would never be able to escape my loneliness. People that I thought were my friends began to turn on me, brushing me off with an attitude of, “If you’re not drinking with us, taking shots at 2pm on a Tuesday with us, then you’re not a part of us at all.” As soon as I started to see through the “hype” and gained enough courage to essentially be my own person, the isolation came from every angle. My roommates thought I was judging them because I had decided to live differently, they drank in my face, and hardly included me in any of their plans. After a while, I started to realize that my basic interactions with people were colored by my feelings of hurt and loneliness. My longing to be accepted and “part of something” had been squashed.
Fortunately, there is an element of irony in loneliness: it has the potential to breed strength. Learning how to be my own person, okay with only having one drink at a party or not even going to a party at all, has helped me realize that my desire to think critically about my life does not make me prudish, but it fuels my sense of identity as a young adult. And believe me, I would be remiss if I did not mention the few genuine friends that have partnered with me through my changes as a young adult. In the end, I have learned that it indeed takes courage and strength to be “different.” And as cliche as this may sound, the world would not be the way it is today if it were not for the different people who were unafraid to live against the “hype.” That is the community I want to be part of – the community of outsiders willing to be a little lonely for a while, not only for integrity’s sake, but for the sake of helping a generation get it’s head out of the clouds and grounded in the things that will last.
As I close, I want to challenge you as a reader to ask yourself which community you are part of? Are you willing to encourage the outsiders you see in your own sphere of friends? Are you willing to take a step into outsiderness? The process of becoming your own person is never easy, but the process, the journey itself, is indeed worth it.
Bedtime Stories Sometimes I am a kid again – Wonderfully innocent, A fresh soul on the earth. With eyes closed, my mind drifts back to popsicle days… Sometimes there is joy behind my smile and I am 10 6 or … Continue reading
I have always thought of “transparency” as a really wonderful thing – being so genuine that you always give other people the “real you.” There are no walls to hide behind, no pressure to embody something or someone – all you are is you.
I’ve found that people long for transparency – in their lives, in personal relationships, and even in the working environment. Transparency can be defined as ultimate honesty. We often live our lives invisibly. We move through the world without people ever really seeing us. We control how much of ourselves we want others to see and often “ration out” parts of ourselves, never truly giving people the “whole” us or the real us.
To be “visible” to another person is to allow that person to see you for who you are – every color, every shade, and every detail that makes you you. Often times, we wear masks, put up facades, and even take on completely false identities in an attempt to either find who we are, or hide who we really are on the inside. Rather than hiding who we are, we should seek ultimate honesty. Albeit, it is extremely difficult to be brutally honest with yourself and with another person. In fact, being brutally honest in any area of your life requires much vulnerability. We run from genuine communication with other people because of our own shame and fear – we do not want to be truly known for who we are because we don’t even like who we are – sometimes. On the one hand, we might understand that ultimate honesty with ourselves and others is important, but I relate our understanding of this notion to one understanding the importance of literacy, but never picking up a book to read. We might know that confronting our real selves can be beneficial, but we often never do it. It seems much easier to hide behind the walls and partitions we set up in our lives.
We often think:
“I cannot open up to another person – he or she will hurt me.”
“If he or she gets to know me, this person might reject me because he or she will not like me for who I am.”
“I do not want another person to know who I am because I am not worth knowing.”
All of these thoughts only add up to one conclusion: we like to disguise our pain. We feign strength by acting arrogantly, we exude confidence to mask our insecurities, we crave attention from others to assuage our issues with self-worth. My point is simply this, if we could learn to peel back the layers of hurt, shame, guilt, anger, resentment, fear, and bitterness, by fully accepting the notion of ultimate honesty, our lives could be richer, fuller, and more meaningful.
Nowadays, we live as if the truth does not exist. The truth is that we are so blind to the reality of our human condition – that we are broken and are in need of love. As a result, we find ourselves hungry for a truth and an honesty that we forget exists. This is where transparency comes in. We long for honesty – it is an elixir with a horrid taste, a vaccine with a brutal delivery. In other words, honesty, transparency, and truthfulness are most often the things we dread, but are ironically the things we need. Being transparent helps us navigate the world with a sense of hope. There is hope in being honest with yourself – being honest with yourself leads to self-acceptance and even healing of the inner-self. Further, being your most honest, most true, most genuine self with another person gives that person the capacity to do the same. In living out the idea of “transparency” you help others move toward being more transparent. Essentially, it becomes safe to be yourself (whether you are weird as all get-out, as off-kilter as Jackson Pollock, or as wonderfully strange as Edgar Allen Poe), when other people are being themselves also. With as many people as there are in the world, it is a guarantee that there is always someone stranger than you are, quirkier than you can be, and in the same respect, it is guaranteed that someone will be just as weird as you.
In essence, a transparent lifestyle is multifaceted. Transparent people come to grips with their emotional wounds, are vulnerable enough to seek help in mending those wounds, and live out the idea that other people are just as wounded, and just as broken, and just as in need of honest, truthful communication. I encourage you to be one of those people. Be a person that is willing to share your scars, your insecurities and your regrets – those are the qualities that remind us of our humanity. Being transparent and accepting the truth about who you are allows you to hope, moves you to love, and guides you to change.
Move from fake to authentic,
from hurt to healed,
from ashamed to a c c e p t e d.