Like most of you I grew up as the weird one in any group. Which is weird, as this blog seems to attract a lot of those who never fit very well elsewhere.
Now, not fitting in is not necessarily wrong. I’m not one of those people who think that most human beings live lives of quiet desperation. I’ve grown up around a lot of “normal” people, and though they bitch as much as the rest of us (nosotros from the Spanish is such a useful word. Oh, you’re served notice, I don’t think I took my Adderal. I was talking to someone while taking pills, and I think I forgot it, but I don’t know (yes, marked pill box) so my thoughts tend to dig in like matryoshka dolls.) Nosotros would be a great name for a blog shared by the regulars here.) most people are pretty content with their lives. Because those who aren’t fight to build something different, and most people don’t. I think what Thoreau meant by that was that most people didn’t experience the ecstatic joy of an infant on the mother’s breast, which is what I think he equated with happiness. That’s fine. Most of us — I think — don’t really want that, either.
However a substantial portion of us were rejected before we had the tools to analyze what was causing it. Hell, most of us still don’t know what caused it. Our first experience of a large group of kids, we just found out they didn’t want much to do with us. I know that was the case with me, though eventually I used my imagination and extensive reading and basically invented LARPing, which made me very popular second through fourth grade in our tiny little school. Then I went to the larger school, and found out I was rejected and couldn’t convince them to spend their time off LARPing whatever I’d just read. Those two years, 5th and 6th grade were the hardest, mostly because I was totally isolated. I spent my days walking around the playground, trying to balance on a ledge, or reading books. By the time I entered seventh grade, well…. people didn’t play, which is perhaps the phase at which we more resemble the monkey band. And I found a group of weirdos to talk to and was eventually (because the school had no clue what to do with us) shunted to a form made up of all the forms where people had been the best students in their form the year before. Which was great eighth and ninth grade. And then I chose liberal arts (long story. It wasn’t exactly chose/chose.) Most of my form went into sciences (most of them are now doctors, with a few biologists thrown in) and there were only three of us in liberal arts, which means we couldn’t be a form as such, and so I was thrown in the middle of the normies again. And rejected again, as 10th and 11th grade was all about clothes and makeup. For various reasons (eh. I could tell you, but it’s a box I really don’t want to open) I didn’t dress the way it was expected, and didn’t really wear makeup except on weekends. And my dating was non-existent (Though I had a crush on this guy and wrote him 200 and some sonnets between 14 and 18. Stop me when this sounds familiar to many of you. And no, we’d never have suited, and dear Lord, if I’d known how to gain his attention and had got it, we’d have made each other extravagantly miserable.)
And btw, I’m not implying not fitting in was a matter of being smarter than the rest. In a way, sideways, I probably was but I’m impaired in various ways that made showing that intelligence a struggle. One was ADHD and to until I got medicated recently, I had NO idea how much of a foot-in-a-cement bucket that was, doing anything from studying to writing. Another is that I’m morally sure I had my younger son’s sensory impairment. Not diagnosable, at the time, natch, but I had trouble writing on a line till almost eighteen, couldn’t color between the lines, and the slightest sound at the back of the class sounded as loud as the teacher’s. (I suspect in fact that that sensory impairment has affected almost everyone who became a carpenter or a mechanic in my family line because “they’re no good at school.” It often correlates with what I call “the engineer brain” in the family.) And, more importantly I lived too much inside my own head, and read too much (yes, it was harder than for the normal kids whose eyes worked together, but I pushed, and therewere psychological reasons for that, never mind.) So the smart might not even have come through.
And we know little kids reject other kids for all sorts of reasons: being outsize (which I was. Not fat. Till about 28 I had times of being too skinny more than times of being fat. But I was very tall. Enough that in the big school in the city, in the early grades, people assumed I’d been held back more than once because I stuck out too much) dressing funny (mom liked making me clothes. They were lovely clothes just not… what you expected.) speaking funny, either in terms of voice or vocabulary (I talked like I’d swallowed a dictionary.)
As I said, kids and their playgroups are the closest we get to the ape band. By the time I was 7 or 8 I was aware that I was not only the pink dyed monkey, which might be excusable (since kids don’t kill those who don’t fit in, mostly because adults don’t let them) but I was the yellow monkey with big pink pokadots.
Yes, the “gifted” classes in two formative grades helped. I knew there were other weirdos out there, who didn’t fit in nowhere nohow.
BUT fundamentally? You see, the problem is that at the center of it, ape bands want everyone to fit in and nosotros (lit. We Others) get the sharp end of social and sometimes physical stick because we don’t. And we can’t, at some fundamental level. (I find it interesting most of my friends have WAY more Neanderthal than the average human being, btw.)
However, the most dangerous thing is that all of us want to have a band. We need a band. It’s part of being built on an ape frame. (I have an SUV built on a truck frame. It rides harder than those of the same size — and larger — built on a car frame. My SUV is not a truck, but it has parts. In the same way, we’re not quite apes. (Oh, we are philologically, but that’s not the point) but we have parts.)
This is a big existential thing, a brokenness inside our emotional selves, that can’t really be assuaged. It lasts our whole lives.
I’ve been lucky to find groups I fit into, these days a lot of them virtual, and to have married someone who is similarly broken, so “You’ll never walk alone” and to have found my profession (such as it is) among other people who ROUGHLY (if not precisely) match me. Among a band of purple striped monkeys, the pink pokadots pass unnoticed, right?
And immigrating probably helped too, because though that’s not the cause, a lot of people assume the weirdness is because of that and discount it.
However, relating to others and belonging is a struggle most of us will have, all our lives, world without end. We both want it and tend to suffer when we try it.
Which brings us to when I was about 15 and had to face “laugh or cry?” Though it is, more appropriately “love or hate” but …. not in a way that’s immediately obvious.
I had by then come to terms with my issue with groups, just not the why of it (as evidenced above, I still struggle with the why and “because that’s how humans are” is a great answer, but doesn’t help.)
I.e. I knew I’d never fit in with most groups and frankly I didn’t want to. What normal people thought and did was somewhere between infuriating and puzzling. I didn’t want to be them. I just wanted to belong the necessary amount not to go insane and I had a small group of friends, so that was okay. But I still had to rub elbows with everyone else, physically and metaphorically to make my way through life.
Which is where the choice came in “laugh or cry?” I honestly I think I made it subconsciously, because I tend to laugh at everything that annoys me. It’s a coping mechanism. But also because I could usually with thought figure out why people were acting the way they were and, look, humans are ridiculous.
But at the same time I saw a lot of nosotros (those I’d been in a form with) make different choices. Some, the ones who could completely understand the “normal” people, learned to pass. I suspect most of them today don’t clearly remember not fitting in. (My dad is to some extent like that.)
Those who didn’t, bifurcated. None of us could take being immersed exclusively in a “normal” group. All of us still needed friends. Well, I had some. Usually no more than three.
But those groups, and the individuals can develop a self-defeating mechanic. We’ll call it the “cry” strategy. Though it’s really the “hate” strategy. You hate all those “normal” people who fit in without struggle and never have to think about it. And you cry over your status as outsider.
A lot of people go on from that to become collectivists and authoritarians. They want a “teacher”, a government who will make others play nice with them. And failing that, or those who realize they can’t have that, they hate humans and want them killed in batch lots. This is where you get the Bernie bros extolling the beauties of the Gulag.
The problem with that strategy is that at the heart of it, deep inside, you come to hate yourself. Because some part of you knows your foibles and impulses are just as irrational if different from those monkeys out there. And also the hurt because they rejected you and forced you to hate them remains. (You find a lot of these people making comments against hate in general while hating practically everyone. Because, you know, at the heart of it what they’re saying is “don’t hate me. Why do you hate me? What have I done to deserve this?) And then they hate themselves for being hateful, though they’d never admit it.
OR those individuals or groups (it’s harder but not impossible for groups) learn to laugh. What, all your classmates in this rigorous, difficult language program are obsessed with dressing up and wearing makeup and maybe snagging some wealthy ambassador? Well, that’s funny, isn’t it? Using not inconsiderable intellectual power in the service of a Mrs. degree. And then other things become funny: the makeup they like. Or how silly fashion is or the mean girls games they can’t help playing. (And you know, I went to an all girls’ school from 7th to 11th grade.)
You don’t laugh at them in a mean fashion, you laugh because you see the mechanisms and they’re so absurd.
And eventually you find you love these apes. Because it is human to love that which amuses you.
You still don’t want to be subjected to their authority or their political “bright” ideas, but if you choose to laugh you’re likely to be able to forgive them (and you) their strange (and your strange) foibles.
None of us are ideal. This is harder on the pink polka dot ( Polka will never die!) monkeys (Yes, I do know we’re achually apes, but monkeys is funnier), than on the rest of us, but even “normal” people aren’t as they’d wish to be, and they have their own struggles.
Laughing will get you through the hard times without hatred. And might make you more likely to love Liberty.
Which is why as sons hit that age when all they did as complain about their “stupid” classmates, I taught them to laugh instead.
The good thing is that you can always make the choice. The bad thing is that you’ll sometimes relapse into the cry/hate mode. It happens to me, and I have to redirect.
But laugh is healthier than crying.
And what if those others who chose crying/hate put us all in the Gulags?
Well, I don’t think it’s that easy, or that simple. This is not a novel (one of the downsides of our people is that they for good and ill consume more “story” than anyone else, which means internally we expect things to work like in a novel or a movie.) and I think if we are yoten upon, the yeeting will get…. sportive.
But sure, it could happen. At least in certain places.
And then what you have to ask yourself is: Do you want to die laughing or crying?
Because laughing, and seeing humans as funny (even if the humor is very dark sometimes) might even have your survival. Because it gives you hope, rather than paint everyone and everything else in dark colors that mean they or you must die, and life isn’t worth living, anyway.
We do know those who survived horrible things throughout history and went on to live productive/happy lives had hope and retained a sense that life was worth it.
Laugh or cry, the choice is yours. But which you choose might determine your end result.