At some level, most of us—no matter how disdainfully we might pretend to look upon those Others who obsess over appearances—wish to be thought beautiful. We want to fit in with others, to belong in the pack, to be loved.Of course, we know that even those who do fit in do so if and as the hierarchy of the pack allows. We are put in our places and told who we are, where we belong, what we’re supposed to be doing, and why we should accept that fate as though it were a natural law. After all, we tend to believe that nature is fact-driven and therefore we, who are mere specks in its vastness, must play our little roles as prescribed in the absolutes of existence. We sit here and take it. In many ways, that’s a useful approach to life, because, well, nature does drive a lot of what is and what happens, and bucking that can be counterproductive or even quite dangerous. And worse, perhaps, such refusal to accept the norms others have agreed upon as right and correct and natural puts us on the fringes and at risk of rejection. Someone along the way is sure to reject the rebel or misfit. Someone will think I’m unfit or, yes, Ugly.It’s a wonderful thing to remember that besides all of the weird and dangerous and unpleasant and otherwise negative possibilities in stepping outside of the normal and expected course of events or refusing to be other than myself in order to seem to fit in better where I really don’t, there are also a vast array of glorious and splendid maybes waiting out there for me to dare to reach for them. Much of what is good and beautifully new in the world happens because one person dared to think, do, and exist differently from the pack, the mass of ordinary people, and brought about an increment of change. How wonderful if I can shed my fears, my need for conformity borne of desire for universal acceptance, and become ever so slightly more notable, one little nth more dazzling, than I was when I was only hoping to be like all the other creatures that I knew.
Hi Kathryn, this is a wonderfully profound and fascinating piece of writing! It actually warrants a lengthy reply which, at the moment I haven’t time to write. It would be lovely to chat about it all over coffee! I find myself in a whole new area of needing to “fit in” since I have been labelled “disabled” in the last two years. This in itself can be debilitating, as at the moment there are things I would like to do, places I would like to go, people I would like to help etc etc but Im not doing it because I feel different. I don’t feel like me anymore, haven’t got used to my new identity, when in fact I haven’t a new one, Im the me I always was. But it doesn’t feel so. I could go on and on….
The photos are wonderful and both beautiful.
Christine, I thank you for your kindness. I can only imagine how it is to rethink your self-identity with MS: if the world thinks we’re different, do we as well? Inevitably, I suppose…and yet….
I was happy with the [digitally-painted] photos, too, a couple of creatures I do indeed find very beautiful in their own ways.
What a great post to read to start off my day. I loved it!
Thank you, Laura! So pleased you enjoyed it. 🙂
You remind me of something that Thoreau wrote: “Moreover, any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already.”
That Thoreau. What a smart guy.
One of my heroes, ever since I was in high school.
A couple of years ago I read ‘American Bloomsbury’ (Susan Cheever), a biography of Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau that had great stuff about those Transcendentalists. A chunk of Americana I’d not had any previous knowledge of at all, and I enjoyed the read immensely.
I’m glad to hear you transcended your lack of knowledge about that movement. We might say you got Alcott up in it and that you now have a Fuller understanding.
Stop it! Yer killin’ me! 😀
Excellent post, Kathryn! I have never felt as if I fitted in; being uncomfortable in the world has been an on-going issue… BUT as my life goes on I realize the only way for me is to be comfortable and productive and myself in my own way. (If that makes sense …)
This expresses it much much better:
‘How wonderful if I can shed my fears, my need for conformity borne of desire for universal acceptance, and become ever so slightly more notable, one little nth more dazzling, than I was when I was only hoping to be like all the other creatures that I knew.’
You continue to inspire and confirm, my friend! XO ♥
You’re right, Diane: what seems an issue, this separateness or differentness, can in fact be a gift, if we let it. It’s truly about finding how *you* should be that lets you finally fit ‘correctly’ into your spot in the universe, I think.