I can get in trouble all by myself. I don’t need any help, thank you.
Believe me – I am one of those alternative chicks who never joined a sorority, never wears the ‘right’ clothes, and barely keeps my Eastern European hair from sticking out all over the place ala Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters One.
Not only am I an only child, I am also an Aquarius. Talk about a double whammy of social in-etiquette. I am the walking, talking poster child for the Society of People Who Don’t Get the Memos That Tell Everyone Else How to Behave. I stumble along, and I think I do a pretty good job of blending in with Everyone Else – but at least once a week I get that old feeling that I’ve broken the rules again.
What rules, you say? If you have to ask, you don’t know them, either. You are probably nodding your head right now and saying to yourself – yeah! I want to know the Unspoken Rules, too! Let’s be honest here – every society has a collection of Unspoken Rules that the members must follow in order to not be considered an outcast or a rebel.
A society is a group of people who are brought together due to circumstances. I am going to focus on the USA for the purposes of this post, as that is my background. When we are small children, our societies are the daycare centers, the T-Ball teams, the kindergarten classroom and the neighborhood kids. As we get into the tween years, our societies become more defined into family, church, and the middle school ecosystems of cool kids, weird kids, poor kids, rich kids, sports kids, etc. By the time we get into high school, teenagers have begun to mold their personalities based on peer pressure, musical and clothing preferences, and preferred social activities. The names for these different teenage societies change with each decade, but the underlying theme stays the same; will you be a jock, a stoner, an Emo, a scholar, or one of those zealous religious kids?
College (or lack thereof) is about expanding frontiers and pushing the limits of society — but don’t be fooled for one minute into thinking that a college campus has more tolerance or more opportunity for societies to blend. They don’t. Often the career path you choose has distinct social parameters and Unspoken Rules. Want to be an elementary school teacher? That nose ring and purple streak in your hair is really gonna stand out at graduation. How about being an accountant or a stockbroker? You better cut your hair a certain way, laugh at all the right jokes, and be able to carry on a conversation using all the ‘right’ words and phrases. It’s not about stereotyping – it’s about knowing the Unspoken Rules.
Honestly, we just haven’t come that far from the Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, or the Red Scare of the 1950’s. Being different has always been dangerous.
OK – you get the idea. Society always has and always will frown on anyone who has opinions or thoughts which are alternative or go against the grain. I question things, and seek answers (that one gets me in trouble with Everyone Else with alarming frequency). On top of that, I grew up in the Midwest in a suburb right outside of Chicago, then lived for 5 years in Manhattan KS, then moved to the East Coast and lived in Fairfield County, CT. I now live the Bible Belt in North Carolina. I like to think of myself as ambidextrous within different groups of societies… but the ruse can only last so long. Eventually, my combination Aquarian oddness/liberal thinking pops out and cracks the shell of my attempts to fit in with Everyone Else. It is a cycle that never ends.
I get tired of all the mystery of living in a society. I say things, and can’t figure out why is was not politically correct to the general population. I share an opinion that is considered blasphemous to Everyone Else. If I write or read things that are not YA, or wear all black, or tell an anecdote that is not white bread Barbie doll, I get looks of confusion or disdain.
Why can’t it be OK to just have a thought or an opinion that doesn’t conform? When did we become such a world where high school never ends? Where cliques are acceptable, even when the people in them are all in their 40’s? One of the saddest things I ever heard another human being say was a 43 year old executive assistant at a large corporation. The topic of friendship had come up, and this woman said very distinctly and directly “I do not need to make any new friends. I have all the friends I need already.”
Wha? She was so set in her ways, and so afraid to expand her little world that she had shut down her ability to befriend or be friended by anyone else. She was proud of her statement, too, as if this were a perfectly natural state of affairs.
So for all of you out there who are honorary members of the Society of People Who Don’t Get the Memos That Tell Everyone Else How to Behave — well met and prosper, my friend.
And for the rest of you who have read this blog and have no idea what I’m talking about… that’s alright, too. Feel free to respond however you like. I promise I won’t mind.