When Naja’s super-logical-brain desperately needs to categorize everything, including her own social standing.
Over the course of the development of this blog, the concept of identity has come up quite often. From my ethnicity and race, to my speech and ideology, my identity has played a huge role in who I am. It’s in my nature to always desire a concrete sense of self, and gray areas freak me out. I don’t necessarily like not having something stable, and yet stability isn’t exactly one of my stronger suits. If I can’t fit into something (a role, an expectation, a dress I bought last year) I freak the hell out.
For the longest time, I’ve been a bit of an “outskirter.” Not necessarily in the crowd, but not really an outcast either. I suppose this is the product of being an introvert: I can be social when I have to be/want to be, but if I don’t want to be it’s pretty obvious. The standard version of this would be, for instance, coming around to say hello, initiating conversation a bit, slowly drifting off, and then disappearing completely. Not because I hate the person I’m talking to or anything. I could be absolutely enamored with the conversation partner. But as most introverts know, if you’re not feeling it, you’re just not feeling it. And that feeling of not feeling it radiates from you like a bad odor.
College may actually be the world’s worst place for introverts. Because it’s the first time you kind of HAVE to put yourself out there if you expect to get anything back. In middle school and high school, it was easy to just hang out with other introverts. Especially the ones you’ve known since elementary school. Since coming here, though, I’ve realized that it’s very easy to just go to class, go to work, and then go back to your room and stay there all night. Believe me when I say, as I’m typing this, that sounds like a dream. But it’s also a very lonely life to live.
Being in college has made me a lot more open to meeting new people, thanks in part to my sorority (shout out to KLP) and also thanks to the whole roommate thing. I think I’ve been lucky that I haven’t had to deal with an asshole roommate, yet. At the moment, I’m 3/3 in regards to having people I like living with me.
But, as I’ve stated, I like names. I like having a group to belong to. And since joining college, the lines of “grouping” have become more and more blurred. The question of what constitutes as “belonging” always changes and shifts in my head. Because it’s very easy to say that you’re a part of something. But if you don’t feel that way, are you really? That’s like saying that you’re on the football team, when you’re constantly on the bench nursing your water bottle. Being a part of something in name doesn’t necessarily mean you ARE a part of it. And for most of my life, this is something I recognized. I don’t think there’s one thing I can say I’ve jumped into with both feet…save maybe writing. I’m a writer. Everyone knows me as a writer.
That’s my thing, thus, that’s what I am. But it’s odd when that’s all people can associate with you (I say as I write). That and being quiet and black..
It’s like when you’re in middle school and you’re forced to say 5 nice things about your neighbor. I remember everyone going around and saying things like “you’re so funny!” “you’re an amazing dancer!” “you’re the coolest person I know!” “you’re so pretty and honest!” “you’re such a great friend!” Then the circle would get to me and it was always, “You’re nice” and/or “You know a lot of stuff.” Then silence, as no one could think up 3 more things because they knew me about as well as they knew the teacher. Maybe even less so.
And I suppose there’s nothing wrong with being called nice and smart. But when that becomes the go-to answer for every single ice breaker. You realize that you’re not really a people person.
It’s a bit stranger when the qualities you believe you have aren’t even defined enough that you are immediately identifiable. For instance, for the longest time, I genuinely believed that I was a nerd. I liked comic books (well…some). I loved comic book movie adaptions. I loved TV shows like Glee, Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead. I argued about characters in forums (for a time). I was a nerd. That’s who I was. But then I started talking to other nerds, and I was hit with the full realization that I wasn’t quite as nerdy as I thought I was. I wasn’t even nerdy enough to hang out with other nerds. The conversation would go to places and I’d be left in the dust, completely confused.
I’m not a partier. I’m not a hipster. I’m not good at sports. I’m not good at visual art. I avoid science like the plague. I’m not a giant ray of sunshine, nor do I still participate in the performance arts anymore. I don’t have definitive personality trait, or a multitude of talents. I don’t really stand out much, even in the clothes that I wear or the way that I speak. I mean aside from my writing, and the fact that I can be clever sometimes, I believe that I’m mostly average (sorry, mom & dad).
Someone suggested I go get my nose pierced and dye my hair. That may be number 3 on my list of things to do before I turn 25.
My ability to blend in like navy seal and disappear at will could benefit me in the long run should I ever decide to fulfill my dream of becoming a travel journalist in the future. It gives me the chance to go from country to country, without causing any international incidents while I’m there.
All of that aside, turning 21 has given me this inner desire to change…something. I don’t know what. It was triggered by something the school therapist once told me. When I told her that I was having issues fitting in, she told me, “Why can’t you just be everything at once?” And I suppose it made sense.
No one is 100% one thing. Even if their largest identifier happens to be a certain trait.
Then one night, a few nights back, I was in bed listening to The Avett Brothers. The song “Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise” played. Typically, when I’m listening to Pandora, I tend to zone out. But this time around I chose to listen to the words:
“When nothing is owed or deserved or expected
And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected
If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected
Decide what to be and go be it”
The clouds in the night sky opened up, and the stars began to shift to spell out “Naja the the hell out of your own head and just live.” And I had an awakening of epic proportions. Because the therapist was right in that I don’t necessarily have to fit in one box. I don’t think anyone cares about this except for me. If I want to do something, I just have to put on my big girl pants and get shit done without worrying about it going to crap. I already know my mom will read this and think, “Duh, I’ve been saying this to you forever.” I’m sorry! Things have to be sung to me through the accompaniment of an acoustic Gibson guitar, sometimes.
If it wasn’t evident, I have epiphanies at least three times a month. This may be my second, and I’m due for another.