I had this idea about what college would be like, and it had very little to do with actual class time. In fact, I didn’t really have a sense of the academic point of college until after I dropped out first semester.
‘Cause the movies all showed a constant stream of parties, dating, and socializing, or…in the case of Buffy: Vampire Slaying.
I mean, when did she have time for class?
I was not prepared by the TV and Film industry for the truth of college. I was not prepared to discover that during your freshman year, there are only 7am classes available AND they’re all in boring subjects that have nothing to do with your major. Also, I didn’t really understand the point of declaring a major.
So when I got to college I just felt so weird.. I was definitely some form of outsider. Didn’t help that I was one of the few Jewish kids at a Catholic college. I was also one of the only sexually active people in my dorm, and definitely the only one with with a background in kink.
I kind of “owned” my weirdness. I took pride in being unique in a sea of cookie-cutter folk and broadcast it to set myself apart. Eventually, I fell in with the misfits: the gay guy, the Lebanese exchange student, the Mexican immigrant on academic scholarship, and that awkward nerdy guy who couldn’t talk to women unless he was drunk.
And trust me, in this very whitewashed, private catholic university, we were definitely the misfits. Not because of who we were, but because we were constantly broadcasting our truth, whether intentionally like I was, or by the way they looked, the way my friends did.
I regularly see people talk about being shy, cautious, introverted, or awkward as though they are the only ones who suffer from this malady.
But…they’re not. I know more people who characterize themselves as having social anxiety than those who would call themselves outgoing and/or extroverted.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think we have a skewed vision of what “normal” people are like. There is no such thing as “normal.”
This is not a huge revelation. I’m not the first person to put those words together. But, today I was having a conversation with someone who described himself as “overly cautious,” and upon explaining what he meant – I didn’t think there was anything “overly” about his level of cautiousness.
It got me to thinking that people are frequently ascribing what is “normal” to some …idealization of what they see in the media, whether it’s TV and film, or social.
That’s not “normal.” By and large, you aren’t getting the full picture of a person unless you’re really getting to know them.
On film and TV, they have scripts. They have that witty quippy response to an antagonist that gets a good laugh, and they don’t do that thing where three days later they think of the perfect comeback and beat their head against the wall that they didn’t think of it sooner.
And on social media? People are showing you what they want you to see in them. If you’re intuitive, you see beneath that surface. When a relationship starts, there’s all the back and forth lovey-dovey writing on each other’s walls and posting love missives of their love for each other.
Months go by and they never post about a fight, or that recurring argument. You don’t often see the post on their wall admonishing their partner for leaving the cap off the toothpaste again.
They keep that negative stuff to themselves – they want project the airbrushed version of their relationship, ’cause it’s perfect.
Until it’s not. And then….
Well then they want you to take their side, so they start posting all the angry retaliatory blogs about how HORRIBLE this person was and why you should hate them. They post pictures of themselves out on dates and looking fine ’cause they want to project an image that they have MOVED ON.
And that’s all it is. Projecting an image. It’s not real. None of it is real.
Not until you really get to know someone.
So, to measure oneself up against an image? Well, it’s the same thing we tell people who look in fashion magazines and feel badly about themselves…
You’re probably not as weird as you think you are.
If there were someone out there who fully represented the concept of “normal” in real life, they’d be the weird one, I think.