Tweeting @Rubenerd an essay-ish response in more than 140 characters and words, but less than 140 paragraphs – Belonging

(Technology) forecasts for 1907

While I curiously wonder what I've done while I was reading Ruben's post yesterday evening, I'll be the first to admit that I don't understand social norms and then shamelessly relink his image. It's true that we're raised on rules and I can believe that I was as well, whether these are Asian or Western is of no consequence, but over time it's as though I'd forgotten them. For some reason, I defy them and I don't understand them. Is that weird?

It's obvious that when the occasion calls for it I can rise to, well, the occasion as it were, but most of the time I keep an open mind. When I was doing 'Belonging' for the HSC, trying to read widely and seeing this overlying theme in everything (as one tends to do in English), I realised very strongly that much of my existence has been about not belonging - alienation, as it were - and this is the side of life that I understand and have experienced the most. How?

In my early years of primary school, I hung out with a bunch of oddities and I always went to coaching after school. In later years, I was the kid in the playground who sat on their own, reading every lunch time for the first half and immediately going to the library once it opened in the second half and called a loner behind my back. If you remember Healthy Harold, I used to have a giraffe pen where the pen tip (base of his neck) plugged into the body. I had a box of plastic furniture for him and his three giraffe eraser children and I brought it everywhere like a favourite toy. I was mocked by teacher and classmates for having no more than an active imagination and while that bothered me, I took it in stride - so what if I didn't fit in, not like my clothes ever did anyway (hand-me-downs from family friends).

Healthy Harold eraser in green colour

In high school, I would always be going to the library at breaks so I could hop onto Powerpets or GaiaOnline with my friends even when only a few of us were left on it. We would PM each other while we sat next to each other in the classroom or directly adjacent from each other in the library. When the DET blocked these sites (~2006), at lunchtime or after class, I would always go to meet my friends, but they would never wait for me or come to meet me. If they waited, I was flattered they would bother spending their time doing so.

This alienation is something I'm used to and almost expect, to the point when I revel in not belonging, likely because that's the only way anyone would ever notice me. I became obsessed with being different, being apart from everything. Who wants to belong? Who wants to be webfamous? I'm the Twitter Queen! It's better to be different, and the more different I was the better - and whence came this open-mindedness I now seem to hold.

When I received a reply from Ray this afternoon in response to Ruben's tweet about us tweeting each other in a cafe, I knew it was in good humour so it didn't bother me, but I'm aware now that this seems strange to other people. I'm aware that my friend will laugh hysterically on Twitter when she does that with her friends because she's so amused that they're doing something so droll and nerdy and whointheirrightmind.... but what's wrong with doing that?

iPad Mini with Bluetooth Keyboard

We become obsessed with the idea of what's 'normal' and what is 'right' or 'wrong', but we shouldn't be, because these are relative concepts that many people may agree or disagree with, but doesn't mean that they're wrong - at least, not unless you believe they are. You like anime figures? Good for you. We are not made to please everyone and please everyone we never will. Or maybe even: you don't have to fit in, because you never will. If you like something, pursue it.

I suppose it comes from this realisation that being different is actually good and that I want to be different, and the realisation that you can't please everyone that leads to my attitude today. But that's not to say that it's all sunshine and rainbows, because I got to the stage where I disliked things because everyone liked them - was I doing this because I wanted to be different, or just because I actually didn't like it? There's more, but I forget.

Ruben reeled me back these few months though, and made realise I can't let opportunities pass me by just because I don't want to join the crowd, that sometimes I should give things a try and see what I think, rather than avoiding them simply because they're popular. You don't have to choose solely to join the crowd or leave it - because it's never a take it or leave it situation. Take as much as you want and leave as much as you want. (May I suggest you never try this with religion, however.)

So yes, it's definitely okay to be introverted. It's okay to be a nerd. It's fine if you like trains. It's cool if you collect anime figures. Why shouldn't it be? It's fine if you don't drink. It's certainly acceptable if you don't like sport. Hold your head up and be proud, because you should be. You're an individual, you're not a drone. You like what you like, and you do what you need to.

Saber Lily anime figure

I would say this matter in its entirety is close to my heart, but there's something else I would learn from this. That just because it's in my nature to be one thing though, doesn't mean I can't try to change it. Sure, I spent most of my live dwelling in alienation, but I've found a place where I do have a sense of belonging - or at least, I did. And sure, I may be an introvert, but sometimes I can try to reach out of that shell too, like a hermit crab, so I can skitter across the sand for a bit, even if for a short while.

And psst. Hey mate, you don't tweet your friend on twitter when they're sitting right next to you, joining you in that drinking and smoking and watching sport? You're missing out, and you didn't even know it.