Over the past few weeks, I have been somewhat accepted into the fabric of my workplace. Coming out of the adjunct faculty pool, I am treated with some degree of suspicion by those in the administrative group – and now that I have been accepted into a position within the administrative side of things, I am treated with suspicion by my former compadres in the faculty base. In essence, I have found myself to be smack in the middle between the two groups – favored by neither, and treated as an outsider. However, that is perfectly “a-ok” for me. Its a position I have found myself in through a lot of my life, and I have developed quite the set of coping skills in dealing with it.
In high school, my long hair ostracized me from many of my peers. My lack of desire for psychedelics removed me from the base of peers that the “social norm” placed me into on the basis of hair length. I learned earlier on that it was just better to let everyone else make their own assumptions about me – and continue on with my daily routines. Eventually, I found others who had fallen through the social cracks and creases and bonded with them. We were such a mis-matched group of people. Long haired philosophers reading Frost and Emerson (me) mingling with others that could have been pried straight from 1980s high school movies such as “Pretty in Pink” and “The Breakfast Club” — we certainly did not “look” like we belonged together.
After high school, I found my way into the United States Air Force, where I again found myself hanging between the various “social” arenas. This was also the time that I “discovered” Paganism, and began to define aspects that are the foundations of who I have become today, at forty-nine years of age. Once again, I let opinions of me float over my head, and wash off of my shoulders. There was even a moment where I was purposely placed on a late-night shift with three evangelical Christians. My guess was that it was done to make me feel “uncomfortable” and eventually “act out” (I was known then – as I am now – to have a temper. I have far better control of it today then I did then). It took me six months, but I made friends with the people I was working with. I even showed them that a Pagan could come to a Christian church and not freak out.
Being in that ‘in between” space is something I have also found myself over my entire life. That square peg set down next to the round hole. Being in the in-between spaces is something I have managed within the Pagan community. In a sense, it can get lonely in that in-between space – that is until you come across others who have managed to wiggle between the floorboards. Then, you get to meet some of the most intriguing people you have ever had the chance to be around.
Sure, I have had the labels of “weird” and “strange” put around my neck. So what? If that’s the way people want to describe me, I’m happy to wear that label. I have had other labels applied to me as well. Geek, nerd, odd, outcast. But these are all just words. However someone wishes to describe me – the end result is that I am still just me. There will always be folks who can’t handle or deal with who I am because I don’t fit their paradigm. Maybe they see too much of themselves in me and its part of who they are trying to get away from. Or maybe they don’t see enough of me in who they are and thus reject me as not being “normal” by their definitions. Who knows? Who cares? As I said – I have been called many things. And while words can be hurtful – its far easier to remind myself that the sting from words hurts far less and far shorter than being clubbed upside the head by a hand, fist, foot, boot, rock, baseball bat…. Its not the insult or the intent that matters (for me)…its the intent behind the action that follows those words that matters more. Thankfully, I’ve not had to deal with that too much. Thankfully for those mouthing the insults, that is.