October 24, 2016

Not Fitting In and Other Things I'm Good At

I’m in a mid-20’s crisis. I’m avoiding the word millennial in this piece because of the rampant controversy and judgement that comes with it. I digress...I feel like I’m 14 all over again because I don’t know where I belong in the world. If I had to pick a clique to eat lunch with, all the 20 somethings would passive aggressively flash their “You Can’t Sit With Us” coffee mugs at me during their conversations about intersectionalism and world peace. Once I became a true and seasoned 20 something this past June, I thought things were going to be sweet. I’d get to mingle at Trader Joe’s, peruse the aisles of Whole Foods while munching on exquisite cheeses from exotic places called Mozzarella, and buy one of a kind stuff from Etsy...But, broke! I have never set foot in a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s and Etsy gives my non-existent bank account heart palpitations. Did I truly believe this would happen? Nah, but it was nice to dream about it.

I’ve tried to stop by Panera Bread’s drive through on my way home using my iPhone’s GPS (even though I already know the way home). I’ve tried to sit at home for hours on end binge watching whatever seemingly deep TV show on Netflix. Excluding Stranger Things, I binged watched that awesome shit, so what? I have tried pondering life while listening to NPR and feeling like a conscious intellectual. Honestly, it’s just not me. To be fair, these are all stereotypes, of course not all 20 somethings are like this, but many of the ones who I’ve met are. After a decently pleasant conversation I get, “So, do you watch Dr. Who? Are you on Tumblr? Anime??? NPR??? The Office???? Cats??? Mason Jars??? Obscure movie references??? VEGAN??????” and when I respond no, they seem disappointed.  I guess we don’t have much in common afterall. I feel bad, because then I feel subpar. I feel like I’m not as stimulating as other 20 somethings, I’m not up there with the elites. Oh, look here I am whining about my place in the world, another stereotype!

I love nerdy people, their quirks, their intricacies because I, too, am a nerd. But what kind of nerd am I? Eye.Dee.Kay. I just like being me. I like to sing and dance badly in my car, I like to make people laugh, I enjoy good, thought provoking conversation, I love learning, imagining, exploring people and ideas. I love my blackness, my hair, my speech. I like short fiction and essays, I can read a couple books per year and be content. I like ‘low class’ shopping at Walmart. I feel like many of the nerdy 20 Somethings have formed this force field against society. Nerdy adults were probably nerdy children who were deemed outcasts due to their lack of interest in popular things/hobbies. In order to protect themselves, they have created their own little world to be with like-minded nerdy people where they can be themselves and enjoy similar interests. As with all social groups, at some point the minority becomes the majority, even if it’s only temporary. I believe people have noticed this sub-culture and are beginning to latch onto it. The nerdy, quirky, Dr. Who-ligan is the average 20 something these days. People seem to be latching on to “otherness” to feel or seem unique, in reality, like I said, the minority is becoming the majority.

I said all that to say, I’m looking for a place to belong. People say it doesn’t matter about belonging and it’s ok to go against the grain and be an individual, but at this point in my life, I want people to relate to. I can’t say I truly want more  friends because that would mean maintaining relationships, and I’m not sure if I’m ready for that commitment! I just want to be around people who are not like me and we’re ok not being like each other. Just because I'm not into something you're into doesn't mean we won't get along! Teach me about you and what makes you different, I LOVE THAT! Let's build relationships where we respect one another and don’t think differently of one another if we’re not on the same page. At least we’re still in the same book. Romantically, I’m always attracted to nerdy and corny guys, but I always fear I won’t be interesting to them because of all the reasons above. Sigh.

I know the young folks of America are an eclectic group, most of this in jest. Young people have a bad rep enough as it is, even though we are wonderful people. There’s so many different kinds of 20 somethings, I’m sure there are some that are like me and enjoy differences...I guess we’ll have to leave the comfort of our laptops and Netflix accounts to discover one another. Welp...

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