Another entry from my long lost book. I wrote this part in 2011. Enjoy!
Tell me if you’ve been here before: You’re walking down a street. You’re thinking about the random minor occurrences of the day. You can’t wait to go home and read another witty yet insightful diatribe about everyday life from Andre. You trip. Not enough to fall, but enough to lose your footing for a brief moment. You look around to see if anyone saw you. You feel slightly embarrassed when you realize you caught the attention of a few passersby.
It makes sense, right? Humans are social creatures and it’s part of our genetic makeup to want to be accepted by our ‘tribe’. So when we do something to make us stand out in a non-positive manner, DNA kicks in and we get embarrassed.
Tada. Biology is useful after all.
But seriously, there’s a ton of historical eccentricities ingrained in humans, but this is one we should fight against more often. Not embarrassment specifically, but rather caring what others think about you.
Don’t lie. You care. Even if you don’t think you care, you care. The degree to which one gives a damn varies from person to person of course, but let’s be real; your average person likes being accepted. Unfortunately this leads to something even more horrifying than terrorism:
Terrorist conformity. Or just conformity; whichever one you prefer.
I often don’t care what people think about me. The reason I say ‘often’ rather than ‘always’ is because there’s once chink in my armor of indifference: I abhor people judging what I do creatively. Which is why you better have nothing but positive feedback on this book or I’ll hurt you.
That’s my “I’m not kidding” laugh.
In reality, I go through hell every time I put something out there creatively for people to love, hate and everything in between. Why? Who knows? Realistically, it shouldn’t bother me, right?
Let’s switch gears for a sec. Growing up, I had to develop a thick skin. I wasn’t picked on in the traditional sense, but I got my fair share of jokes. I was a funny looking kid who wore big glasses, desperately needed braces and made nerdy jokes. Not so different from me as an adult I suppose. The point is I was a dork. Not just any dork either. I was a dork’s dork. Other dorks read tales of my dorktitude and ability to make up fictional words describing how dorky I was.
When I graduated from 8th grade I was elated to reform myself. It was a chance to start over! No way I could be awkward and dorky in high school, right?
That’s exactly why I decided to break out of my shell in my first high school dance. Decked out in my finest black button-down shirt tucked into olive slacks and topped off with a fresh set of penny loafers, I was ready to hit the scene. And what a way I hit it.
That dance was the polar opposite of what I was prepped for. Kids were in jeans, sneakers and Tommy Hilfiger hoodies (god bless the mid-nineties). Ok, ok… clothes weren’t everything. I could still salvage this night, right?
So I danced.
Actually it was just a close approximation of what I thought dancing was.
Actually it wasn’t close at all.
The jokes came. I slinked into a corner and drowned my sorrows in fruit punch flavored soda and Fritos. I hung up my penny loafers and didn’t dance for a half decade.
In the ensuing years I did everything I possibly could to conform. I began dressing like everyone else. I used all of the relevant slang at the time. I made fun of those who were different than me. But at the end of the day I was still me; people could easily see through the façade. It wasn’t until my foray into college when I finally gave into myself and stopped caring as much about how others perceived me.
Not such a unique story I suppose, but I’m putting up a stand against this useless feeling once and for all. I’m going to be me, flaws and all. The same goes with you. Of course we all do things to fit in to a certain degree, but the things we do and say define us. Why should we care how people feel about that definition? Unless you’re a jerk. Then yeah, you kind of suck. Get out of my tribe.
Peace out, party people.
Previously: Throwback Writing: A Random Tuesday at Work