Edith here, on the Ides of March. But instead of talking about seers’ warnings, assassinations, or the start of civil wars (which Caesar’s killing kicked off), let’s talk about one way in which we have always marched out of step with our peers, with the rest of society, or with our families. I take it as a positive trait when a person is out of the ordinary, but it can also cause problems, even bullying. Sometimes we need a great deal of strength to keep our heads up and march to the drummer we feel led by, not that of everyone around us.
Dance to the Beat of Your Own Drum
Sherry: Thinking over this topic made me realize what a middle of the road person I am. I reached out to some long-time friends to ask them if they thought there was any way I’d marched out of step with my peers. They had nothing. I’m just a normal, middle-aged woman, who lives in the suburbs, dresses conservatively (other than the occasional animal print), and loves my family and friends. I know, I know, I’m boring. Wait — I married a younger, shorter man — strictly against social norms. There you go.
Liz: What a great topic. I’ve always been just a bit out of step in so many places – especially my family! We just didn’t see eye to eye on most (important) things. But I find that even in my day job, while I enjoy the people I work with, I seem to think just a bit differently than most other people. Not surprisingly, it’s the few creative folks in the environment toward whom I gravitate. So I’ll blame it on having a creative brain. Or really, maybe I’m just weird?
Edith: I think I’ve pretty much always been a little out of step. I was always the shortest and youngest in my grade (yay, Bob Harris!), and felt a great injustice that I wasn’t asked to carry the books (with the boys) from the book room. As a young adult, I rejected social norms of women’s beauty (all that shaving, all that makeup, all those heels). In some sense I was in step with my (early 1970s) cohort, but pretty much out of step with the rest of society. And I have other examples. But I like Liz’s analysis of blaming it on the creative brain. Or maybe we’re just weird?
Barb: It’s hard to see my own life through any prism that tells me what was usual and what was un. I did what I did. I came to a variety of crossroads and took the path I thought was best based on what I knew at the time. Sometimes I was right, sometimes wrong. My sense is that’s the way it is for most people. I was never consciously swayed by fears or hopes about what other people would think of my choices, but my parents’ very American, very middle-class values are wound tightly around my soul, so I’m sure they play a part. I guess the most unusual thing I’ve ever done is write that novel I kept talking about.
Julie: As I get older I realize that I have chosen my own path for my entire life, though quietly. I have always been a daydreamer, for example, and just assumed everyone else was. Not so, I came to realize. My daydreams, alternate realities, were part of the forming writer’s brain. I work in the arts, and am surrounded by folks who create the beat of life. I’m thrilled to be along for the ride–marching out of step helps me notice who else is in the parade, what the scenery looks like. It also makes me aware of who isn’t keeping up, so I can lend a hand.
Jessie: I found this to be a difficult topic. Painful even. Those who have met me as an adult may find it difficult to believe, but as a child and a teenager I always felt completely out of step. My family moved very often in my early years and I always felt like an outsider with every new school, each new town. I was excruciatingly shy and found the experience harrowing every single time. I became entirely used to the idea that others belonged and I was foreign. As an adult I have settled down in one place for many years but still find that I often think of myself as an observer on the fringes. Fortunately, a witnessing role on the outskirts is a perfect place for a writer to be!
Edith: I’m sorry to have proposed a painful topic, Jessie. We moved our kids twice to West Africa (but then back to their home town after a year), and I saw how excruciating it was for my shy, introverted son. I’m so pleased you have found your one place now, and that you can use your observer role to such good ends – being a brilliant writer. And I love how we are all different from each other on this topic, and yet have found common ground in our friendship and our writing goals.
Readers: How do you march with the rest of your cohort, your culture, your peers, and where have you struck out on your own path? Has being out of step – or in step – been easy, painful, useful?
I don’t think that I ever conformed to anyone’s version of anything. I am not typical . I can be a chameleon. I am not fake, it is just that my spirit is so varied that I can usually fit most anywhere comfortably. I love to join groups and I love my friends ferociously. I also love to be alone. When I was young, I was just the opposite. I felt awkward almost anywhere. Thankfully, people were placed in my life to teach me that I was as worthy as the next guy. We all as worthy as the next guy.
That’s a good and useful mantra, Laurie. We’re all as worthy as the next guy. Thanks for stopping by the blog!
I’ve always been the ultimate good girl, good citizen. Now I’m old. Look out.
On the lookout for daring old-lady deeds, Ramona!
I was “that girl” in school (as my girl would say). The one who didn’t have the right clothes, wear the right amount of makeup, do the right things. I joke that even the non-popular kids in high school didn’t want to hang around with me! Then I went to college and while I didn’t change so much, I found people who liked me for who I was.
But since then? I’m like Sherry – so middle of the road and plain vanilla. I’m not sure what drum I’m marching to. But I did marry a guy almost ten years my senior – does that count?
Anyone who thinks they are “plain vanilla” and writes about murders and mayhem already is a little out of sync with the rest of the band – in the best of ways!
You may have a point.
Like Jessie I never felt like I fit in as a kid even though we didn’t move but the once. I just always felt “off” – I was the voracious reader in a family of non-readers, at school I was the one who wanted to know “why” to everything even when the nuns didn’t want to explain why and I wanted to tell people information that I had learned. I didn’t misbehave but I was considered difficult. The kid who doesn’t know how to stop talking.
I learned after a while that to fit in I had to suppress that urge to know, to talk, to discuss, to express. I even think it was a manifestation of the anxiety that surely didn’t just start in college. It’s hard now to re-condition myself to allow that part back out when it’s useful and people would embrace it – because, hey, mystery writers are the ultimate group to ask “why” with, right?
So I still feel like an outsider because I teach my daughter to never change for anyone, who is she is perfect as she is, that she’s the only her that will ever be and the world needs her just as she is … and I don’t know that I believe that for myself, yet.
These are some amazing stories coming out from adults who don’t outwardly show any signs of that younger outsider. You rock for teaching your daughter the way to be – herself.
I read recently that virtually everyone grows up feeling that they don’t “belong”, and if people really knew them, they wouldn’t like them. Most of us get past that, at least in part. Though I made an effort to fit in to some extent, I always was enough of a (mostly well-behaved) rebel that I felt I was my own person. I’ve always been considered a little weird, which is fine, but I couldn’t wait to get old so I could be called eccentric instead. I’m now old and loving it!
One of the best parts of getting older, Ginny!
I’m a guy who reads books that mostly women read.
I’m a reader who also watches a lot of TV.
I’m an accountant who loves fiction and writing.
I run a blog.
I do mud runs. Lots of people look at my like I’m weird for that.
I play ultimate Frisbee, a sport I almost always have to explain.
I’m an adult male who loves all things Disney.
I’m an adult male who still enjoys some kid’s books.
I’m the only male on my Trixie Belden message boards.
Need I go on?
There is one more I have to include.
I have a review blog, not a book blog. I review things other than books. (There are some book blog communities I can’t be part of as a result, so yes, this is very odd.)
That’s why we love you, Mark! You are one of the really interesting people that I would love to be around.
You are unique and that is awesome.
I was blessed to be raised by a mother that taught me to be who I wanted to be, do things the way I wanted to do them and as long as I was happy with who I was and did no harm, all was good. I dyed my hair all sorts of colors before anyone did and loved it. I dressed the way I wanted to and loved it. I loved school, but partied and had a blast. I got along with everyone in school from the jocks, to the as they were called then freaks to the scholastic and even hung out with my teachers. Now I was extremely shy as a young child, but after 6th grade there was no stopping me. I continued to dye my hair throughout my life in any color I could get my hands on. I remember going to work one day after I had it dyed bright pink. One of the ladies I worked with offered to give me not only the name of her hairdresser but also her lawyer, lol. Another lady asked me why I dyed my hair such odd colors. I asked her if she had ever spoken to me before. She of course had not. So I told her that is why I did it. I live the way I feel and love every day.
Good for you, Kay!!
You were blessed with a mother who appreciated and encouraged you. My parents did the same, and I have tried to pass it along to my sons. Now I think I’m going shopping for purple hair rinse!
Your hair is the perfect starting place. I think purple would look amazing on you. I want to see photos
Will do, Kay!
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