What You See . . .

>> Thursday, October 7, 2010

I read a blog post the other day that got me thinking. It was a memory someone was repeating where she was going to a new school, was welcomed into a group of other teenagers who were of a very different background. Unwilling to give up what she saw as her sense of self to fit in, she left. The story she was telling was all about being true to yourself.

But I got something else out of it as well. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm all for being true to yourself. I've always been true to myself and had the popularity to show for it. And I don't want to point fingers. This is a memory someone else had and the pieces that meant something to them.

But, what struck me the most was that, despite the fact these kids (prompted, admittedly, by a teacher) were open and welcoming, she decided they could never be her friends presumably because of what they were. They just were "the wrong" kind of kids, based on just a few minutes' acquaintance. Popular (apparently), jocks, cheerleader types. They weren't familiar with the sort of things she was interested in.

What surprised me was how automatic her assessment of the others were, how quickly she assumed they would try to change her, or how quickly she decided they wouldn't or couldn't accept her for what she was. Except all I kept thinking was, what about them? I mean, who's to say being popular or being a jock or being a cheerleader meant you couldn't have diverse interests, or wouldn't try out something new? Or accept someone who happened to be different?

I am a person who had few friends, largely because it takes an exceptional person to like me, the real me. But, you know, some of those few friends were the most popular people in school and some were the least. Many of them had completely different interests, some of which I learned to share, some of which I didn't. I didn't expect them to be anyone else either. I tried D&D because of them and cutthroat Uno. I was exposed to new musical groups in college and new types of books. They expanded my horizons and, perhaps, I expanded theirs. Not because I couldn't be myself, but because we were comfortable enough with ourselves not to need to conform, open enough to try something we hadn't tried before.

I'm glad people are comfortable enough with themselves to be who they want to be. Still, I'd hate to think, for myself, that I'd gone through life turning my back on people who might have been great friends if I had seen past what they are and just seen who.

Not an attack on the blog poster, just a commentary on where the story took me.


  • Roy

    This reminds me of some of the people I went to high school with. Being a jock or a cheerleader wasn't a guarantee that the person was a conformist or dull or "normal". I knew some pretty weird football players, let me tell you!

  • The Mother

    I agree. Dismissing someone at first glance, out of hand, is no way to run your life.

    I long for a world where people are judged not by their background or color or what book they choose to run their lives by, but by what comes out of their mouths.

    And that takes a while to find out.

  • Shakespeare

    One reason I went heavily into theatre is that it was one place where I didn't exactly fit in, but everybody liked me anyway, despite my extreme nerdiness. When we had BYOB parties, everybody thought it was cute when I showed up with my root beer or chocolate milk. No one pushed me, no one judged me.

    Being true to yourself means being surrounded by difference, but embracing it and letting those around you embrace you, too.

  • Project Savior

    Your post reminds me of this article:


    Being popular and being a geek aren't mutually exclusive.

  • Jeff King

    I don’t know how that feels not to fit in… it might be part delusional on my part, but I’ve never felt like I didn’t fit in—at any age or place in time.

    I’ve always fit right in and never had to change who I was to do so, it just come natural to me… I guess.

    It’s weird, I never really thought about it before. That must really suck to feel you’re not accepted or wanted.

    I hope I never made anyone feel that way, and from now on I will focus on including others where I can.

  • Relax Max

    I never had any friends. Even after school. I've never understood why. :)

    Actually, looking back, I had friends in just about every social group in school, or at Least I could come and go in any group.

    I would never be impolite to you in real life. I just like to argue on a theoretical plane. Sometimes I even fly in theoretical planes.

    To know me is to love me.

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