I’ve always had to be a little different, in the smallest safest ways.
I will find the most ridiculous round-a bout bike route and convince myself I’m a genius. I’ll order magazines on Etsy that no one reads and decide they are the best kept secret in the universe.
I’ve convinced myself that a slightly alternative method to the one generally taken is superior in almost every facet of my life. Because if something is “the norm” I probably won’t like it. I can’t explain why. It could be that I live in fear of having no real identity and am forcing myself to be unique in the most minute ways to feel quietly special.
Example: When everyone was getting a second ear piercing in grade nine, I had to pierce my cartilage instead of my ear lobe, even though it hurt more. And it was awesome. I have since taken it out.
I was never going to be a girl who liked pink. I’ve never had a pink room, or dress (that I remember or had any say in). From nursery school until always I have been committed to purple. A bit different than pink, and obviously better.
In high school I was ALL about Buffy the Vampire Slayer over Dawson’s Creek. Now it is so clearly the better choice, but at that time it was a real uphill battle.
I can’t just buy a new bike. I have to try every bike and then buy one that’s different than anyone else I know. That’s purple.
I am in quiet cultural rebellion, sometimes to my own detriment. I only read popular fiction at my own pace. Example, I read the Harry Potter series last summer. As a 30 year old with no children around in 2013. It was amazing (why did no one tell me about this?!) and my friends were very good about not giving anything away about particular characters when I called them fuming and shocked. On a daily basis. All summer.
Other examples: never seen Star Wars or any James Bond movie, I know nothing about anything regarding Lord of the Rings, or The Matrix, or any Russel Crowe movie… I haven’t seen a single episode of Game of Thrones or The Wire. I’ve only watched the first season of Breaking Bad. I’m not opposed to these things…I’ll get there when I’m ready and then ask, “do people know about this thing?” and feel like I discovered it.
Well, I might let the Bond thing go…and Lord of the Rings. I just…there are only so many hours.
As a playwright I refuse to be savvy. I can’t make myself look at the theatres in Toronto right now, see the sort of work they’re doing, and then try to write that- to get my stuff out there in a professional context. Instead, I write what I want to write, and then don’t know what to do.. unless I get lucky and pulled out of that Fringe Festival hat. There are other options- to independently produce— but this is a huge and scary endeavour with enough ‘what ifs’ that make me so dizzy I never get further than a few steps before nausea hits. I have a huge respect for all my peers that have succeeded in this feat. One day I will stop spinning my wheels and do it myself.
When I am choosing a movie to watch on an airplane I need to go through EVERYTHING because I will not just watch what everyone else is watching from “New Releases”, I have to find that movie that no one has heard of that is clearly better than everything else. And then I probably need to become obsessed with it for a short period of time after. It is very possibly not even that good. (Have you seen Bee Season? It could be great. Or I just told myself that).
I would definitely get a tattoo so I could feel like a quietly rebellious bad-ass, but there is no way I will ever think of the best tattoo ever with the best most transcendent meaning that no one has ever thought of before. I forfeit.
When I was in university I did the Foundation Year Program at King’s College, and every two weeks we’d get a list of essay questions to chose from. Instead of picking the one about Descartes or Rousseau, I would chose the ones about Pascal or Novalis. I think Hobbes was my most “mainstream” choice. And I obviously argued whatever wasn’t the conventional, rational perspective.
I also had to like Webster more than Shakespeare. (If you’ve seen Shakespeare in Love, Webster is the kid killing rats outside the theatre).
My first play was about mice and cats (who were also early modern philosophers) instead of PEOPLE.
When trying to pick a website template I need to go through all of them, and then instead of choosing one already set up for an actor or writer, I will decide on one for a bike store or an architectural firm and then spend hours and hours trying to change it because I know it will be better in the end. These template designers don’t know me! They should stop pretending they do.
This might be why I don’t have an actual website.
I want to go to the coffee shop that looks like your grandmother’s attic, if your grandmother’s attic was filled with masks from a number of countries and other slightly threatening oddities, and when I go there I will love it and come to believe it’s the best coffee in the city. No one will ever agree to meet me there.
If you tell me something is going to take me a particular amount of time to do I will nod as if I believe you and then do it in less (probably not as well…). This does not apply to athletic activities like running somewhere.
In terms of a career I have chosen the perfect thing for this temperament. There is no ‘right way’ to pursue a career in the arts, so by default I am doing it my own way, constantly telling myself that’s OK. This is only getting more challenging as friends get married, buy houses, have kids… and I’m still temping/shoe shining/ETC and often floundering. But sometimes I am so incredibly excited about my job and what I am working towards, even if it seems irrational.