I actually had a hard time with the prompts this morning. I sat here at the dining room table in front of a blank Add New Post screen for a good half hour trying to clear my head enough to wrap my head around something to write about today. It actually took a post made by a friends on a FB thread I started that got my gears rolling.
Today’s #scintilla prompt:
Prompt A: List the tribes you belong to: cultural, personal, literary, you get the drift. Talk about the experience of being in your element with your tribes.
I’ve spent the majority of my 26 years on this good earth trying to fit in somewhere. Anywhere. I’ve also spent copious amounts of time running away from subcultures that have stereotyped me into someone I’m not.
I suppose it started with elementary school. I didn’t really identify with the girly girls in my class, the ones that brought their baby dolls with them to school and did each others hair, so I stuck myself in the tomboy group. Although I occasionally did wear some skirts (although after the unfortunate twirling accident during which my skirt flew up above my head and everyone saw my skivvies, occasional became almost non-existent), I wore pants and shorts, for the most part. Yeah, my room was pink, and I liked dolls, but I didn’t bring them to school with me. I didn’t squeal and beg someone to braid my hair. Instead, I brought pogs (and also got them banned from school because I was just so awesome at winning everyone else’s that they went home crying to their parents about how I took them) and Magic the Gathering cards (believe me, my bank account is regretting my decision to give away my first editions way back in 1993). I was friendly to everyone, not just those who I wanted to be friends with. Maybe that was my downfall?
In junior high, the cool thing for us girls was to fawn after the popular boys in school. So while I put up a front for those around me by saying, “ZOMG, *insert boy’s name here* is just soooooo hawt,” I was actually fawning over geeky boys that most of my more popular female cohorts wouldn’t even give a second glance. In fact, my first “boyfriend,” if you could call him that (it was 7th grade after all), loved to read. Our first date was at Barnes and Noble, where we played chess and sat and read for hours while drinking Caramel Frappucinos. He took me to the Renaissance Faire, and wrote me little love notes written in code (and also sometimes in another language) that I’d go home so excited to decode. He wasn’t in the popular crowd, and I was perfectly okay with that, because *I* knew that he was cute (which apparently stuck with me later on as I developed feelings for guys that were not the atypical “hotties” in everyone’s minds). In addition to that, the other popular thing to do was to have those binders with the clear plastic covers and stick put all your friends school pictures in them. Instead, my friends and I had matching Chococat zipper binders from Sanrio, and we would write on each other’s arms with gel pens and shove neatly folded notes in each other’s lockers. And trade Pokemon cards (which, incidentally, I also got banned). We also had a notebook (which then turned into a binder that got taken away on more than one occasion) in which we’d write notes to each other, and stories involving Dragon Ball Z characters and pass it back and forth.
High school was a mess, mainly because I went to a school where you were more or less categorized by the amount of money your family had or the side of Keystone Ave (in Carmel, Indiana) you lived on. Well, we didn’t have a lot of money, and we lived on the non-upper-crust side of Keystone, and that made me part of the out-crowd from day one. For the three years I went there, I had the same group of friends, and we all did the same things. I never tried to conform, and I stuck to my Walmart and Meijer clothes (until I got a job and branched out a bit). Even through all the bullying, I survived the most tumultuous years of my life rather unscathed. Engaged at 16, boyfriend living with me (well, sort of), hell, I had people envious of me. It was interesting.
In college, I joined the Otaku culture. The cosplayers, the anime convention-goers. I read manga (maaaahnga, not MAINga) and watched anime and played video games. I went to conventions. I stayed up until all hours (or days) hanging out with people that I thought were just as nerdy as I was. I started partying with these people. I started dating these people. I found solace in this nerd-culture, but I didn’t know why. This was also right around the time I became the atypical gawth. My hair became an unnatural black, and my closet was full of size 8 Tripp pants and other Hot Topic goods (the Hot Topic that was before the emo and scene kids took it over). I had short plaid mini skirts, corset tops and knee-high boots (which are honestly the only things I miss). Being a part of this culture made me tired, and it ate my soul. I became a different person entirely when I hung out with these people. That’s not to say that I haven’t remained friends with some of the people I became attached to during that part of my life, because I am still friends with a few people. But I can say that my life changed for the better when I ran away from that group.
That brings me to the now.
The tribe I belong to now is “human,” but I am very much my own person. I take photographs. I knit hats and things. I wait in line for new Apple products. I cook. I eat. I love. I hate. I’m a daughter. I’m a sister. I’m an aunt. I’m a cat-mom. I’m a wife. I’m a friend.
So I’ve come to determine that, no matter what tribes or groups we try and identify ourselves with or run away from, we are all still unique humans. That’s the most important thing to remember as we try and find our places in the world.
It’s just that simple. Well, as simple as finding one’s place on this good earth can be. I frankly find it taxing and exhausting, but well worth it.