I think a good place to start, really, is by mentioning what happens when you don’t fit in with those around you.
I haven’t fit in for years. My whole life, really, when you get right to it. Many people don’t fit in, but some have the confidence to carry that off – to not care what others think. That’s a skill I’m trying to figure out how to develop.
But first, let’s just talk about being that out-of-place person: that unassimilated earthling.
I’m starting here, in large part, because I was handed the topic on a silver platter by Virgie Tovar’s recent brilliant blog entry, “I’m a Fat Anti-Assmilationist (& No I’m Not Sorry)”. Though she focuses on fat, what she has to say about not being the accepted norm is quite universal:
Jack Halberstam in The Queer Art of Failure speaks of this very phenomenon. All of those who are outside of what is considered normative MUST be seen and constructed as failures. Our choice to be outside of the … center of privilege must be erased. It cannot be seen culturally as a choice because this would too quickly unveil the critique that making such a non-compliant choice indicates. When we choose not to assimilate this is very powerful because we are in essence saying “your party sucks.” And, girl, patriarchy really doesn’t like to hear that.
Whatever the prevailing society is doesn’t like to hear dissenting opinions that challenge its foundational beliefs: whether it’s just your friends gathered, talking about their kids, and you’re the bump on a log not knowing how to tell them you hate children … or your family members who’ve chosen to define their lives and self-worth based on the jobs they do (and often, the jobs their children do), and you don’t know how to get across to them that you’ve found more important things in life … or your friends of friends, debating politics at a party, and you don’t know how to tell them that you gave up on that malarky because you long ago concluded that spending time and energy on things you can’t change was a fool’s errand.
This is where I am. It’s all well and good to say that it’s powerful to not assimilate, but the counterstroke is that it’s not validated – others don’t acknowledge my stories as true, or my choices as choices – and this has led me, eventually, to the crisis of identity I’m now having.