Word Nerd is...

kinda nerdy, happily wordy, and bookishly dorkalicious

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Independently Individual

We’ve all seen them. In all likelihood, we’ve all been them, at least to a degree. Often, they are teenagers, but not always. They tend to travel in packs, dressed similarly and carrying themselves in a manner that screams, “Screw you!”

They may have pink hair. Or black. Or none at all. They might sport tattoos, or nose rings, or pants that hang off their fannies.

They send a specific message, or so they think. It appears as if they are saying, “Hey, to hell with your narrow views, screw your old-fashioned thinking, and kiss my ass if you think for a minute that I am anything like you.”

But the funny thing is that they are me. They are you. And we are them.

Despite their obvious effort to be different, they manage to blend in with their peers, the sameness diluting the very message of independence and individuality that they seem so determined to send. I don’t blame or judge them. Who hasn’t wanted to take a different path?

From what I’ve seen, it’s pretty much a given that one generation will style themselves differently than the one before. Straight-laced parents bore a generation of hippies, and then the free thinking, free-loving, laid-back kids grew up to raise a crop of bankers and builders and corporate-ladder-climbers. Their grandparents must have smiled when little Sunshine and Freedom changed their names to Samantha and Frank, bought suits, and interviewed downtown.

I admire genuine individuality more than most traits. More than ambition, more than obedience. Far more than obedience.

Sometimes, walking between groups of uniformly attired people, I spot a standout. Someone who just doesn’t fit. A rebel. And when I do, it makes me happy.

Individuality expressed is a celebration of one’s core self, and what is more beautiful than that? The kid in the crazy mis-matched outfit, looking pleased and proud? I like that kid. The tomboy, the bookworm, the kid who asks for beakers for Christmas—those kids are the brave ones, the strong ones, the ones who will make their marks. They are already making them.

Good for them.

Sometimes, you can look at an adult and clearly see that person as a teenager. The cheerleader, the teacher’s pet, or the one who worried their parents half to death. Sometimes, though, these impressions are dead-wrong. Today’s church-going teetotaler might very well have been yesterday’s hell-raiser. The guy in the ratty blue jeans who sells organic produce at the farmer’s market may have an Ivy League education and a law degree, but woke up one day to realize that he was living someone else’s life, so he chucked it all and bought 50 acres and a John Deere.

Again, good for them.

Taking the time to look inward and then having the courage to act on what you find is a wonderful, admirable thing. It makes no difference if we are six or eighty-six—being who we really are without trying to explain or apologize is a wonderful way to live.

I hope I get there.


Sandy said...

I too like being different, and admire those that don't blindly follow; but I can't stand the pants hanging...makes me want to pull them down so they'll fall. The nose rings give me the willies, I rarely even wear earrings. The tats....I really don't get. Some are so covered you can't see real skin and I know how bad their skin will be as they age.

Good post. Right you are, they say they want to be different, but they're not at all....they all look alike.

Joyce Lansky said...

Great post. Different is a great thing as long as it's not too far out there.


Sylvia Colette Branch said...

Love this post, so true. Gotta love the odd duck.

Word Nerd said...

@Sandy: Teenagers are supposed to look funny, I think. It's part of their charm. ;O)

@Joyce: You know what they say: "Variety is the spice of life!"

@Sylvie: Thanks. I've never been a fan of plain vanilla, except in ice cream.

Sun Singer said...

I like the one who hears the different drumer.

gawysmiff said...

I find myself changing now that I have reached my "olden" years! I spent over 40 years working in factories and having no time for anyone. When I lost Becky and realized just how loved she was I decided I had better become someone that could return all the caring and love I received during that time. The folks I met on MySpace and FB have been a wonderful help to me, not the least of whom is my favorite "Word Nerd". Thank you!!

Dances With Vodka said...

LOVE this! I have no idea how people see me now nor did I have a clue how they viewed me when I was a kid or a teen and I don't care now, just as I didn't then. I don't think they knew how to label me and sometimes when they started to, I would switch it up and act a little different. I was quite the tomboy but then I also played barbies, I liked to play sports but I also loved to read and write and draw. I guess I was an all around kind of kid and I got along with everyone. All the other kids in school were cool with me just as I was.

Word Nerd said...

@Malcolm: Me, too. I think that's why I hang with such an oddball crowd. ;O)

@Gary: I remember you telling me about the outpouring of love and support you got during Becky's illness and after her passing, and how it literally changed who you are. I've only known you 'after,' and because you are so warm, giving, and genuine, I have a hard time imagining you as anything 'less.'

I wish your Becky was still with you, but if she had to be taken, I'm glad that you have found a love-filled life. I'm blessed to know you, I hope you know that.

@DWV: One of the things I admire most about you is that you don't fit any mold but your own, and you don't have any desire to 'blend' at the expense of being true to yourself. That's HUGE.

Kelly Dougherty said...

lol, I've always been defiantly different.. every aspect of my existence was outside the norm and continues to be.. it took me 45 years to really and truly like who i am, to not feel a need to explain or apologize .. I've made more mistakes than otherwise and learned that I really don't know a damn thing.. but I wouldn't trade a second of it for anything else

Over the years I could have used the encouragement I find here in your words, but then I would likely have needed to justify wanting it..lol Keep the spirit and thanks for sharing

peacegirl said...

The greatest freedom I've found in life has been through my journey to find myself and get to the core of who I am and who I want to be. A sometimes painful, but always productive process it is. It saddens me that everyone doesn't do this. I think we are meant to discover our unique selves and fully bloom into who we were meant to be. Like you, I attract to those who are secure in their indiviuality, that is , in ther 'true' individuality.

You have so nailed on a topic dear to my heart.

Word Nerd said...

@Kelly: You sound like every one of my favorite people. :O)

@peacegirl: I love connecting with people who see life as a 'journey' and are willing to find out who they are and then just be that person, rather than trying to fit someone else's idea of who they 'should' be. :O)

Montana Lady said...

I have noticed I am changing as I become wiser. Which of course comes with experience and age.

deanna banana said...

I was just thinking about this topic earlier today! I'm not sure why but it always amazes me that some of the oddly dressed or goth, or whatever flavor of teenagers in the mall fail to see the irony in their collective "individuality." It's difficult to be truly different if you do it in the same manner as everybody else. lol

Word Nerd said...

@ML: I think God gives us wisdom as sort of an apology for wrinkles and gray hair. ;O)

@Deanna: Yep, they are all so unique... :O)

Cyndi said...

As the mother of twenty-somethings who all have tattoos, I can't wait until tattoos are old fashioned and something the older generation did!

Word Nerd said...

@Cyndi: I got my first tattoo last year on Mother's Day (I was 48). My daughter and I got matching tats on the outer edges of our right feet--they say, "Namaste." This year (also on Mother's Day), I got a teeny little heart on the back of my neck. :O)

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