Exotic Lives.

I think of exotic as foreign lands, strange animals, and weird customs. But can exotic also mean the difference between your lifestyle and another’s? I’m jealous of the people who seem to do more, even if it’s only local – more social events, more eating out at different restaurants, going to concerts. Compared to working and coming home to spend the evening reading, that seems very exotic indeed. I suppose the whole thing boils down to the fact that people want what they don’t have. The things that aren’t usual every day occurrences are the things you want the most.

When I went to college, all the men seemed so much more attractive than the people I grew up with. Someone told me that it was because I was used to seeing the other guys in high school every day so that they didn’t seem as attractive. This makes sense to me; after all, I couldn’t care less about dating someone I saw every day for four years.

It’s a matter of perspective, you know? What one sees as mundane another sees as exotic. In that sense, then maybe we all need to step back and re-examine ourselves. Take note that maybe our lives are just as special and exotic as any other. Instead of seeing it as mundane, find it as something extraordinary.

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The Introvert’s Weekend.

This is what I did this weekend:

  • I went on a hike on Friday afternoon after work.
  • I read on the back porch.
  • I worked on my writing. I ended up tearing out half of what I wrote, but it felt good to get back into writing.
  • I went on a couple walks around the block.

At the end of the weekend I felt peaceful and fulfilled about it all. I do this sort of thing almost every weekend, but I always feel tense about it, like I should be doing something more sociable and exciting and by the end, I feel exhausted in the effort in the inner conflict of what I think I should be doing and what I actually want to do with my weekend. The difference, I think, is that I actually gave myself permission to do what I want and not feel guilty over not doing anything according to my more extroverted acquaintances.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of a little book by Susan Cain called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, but I finished reading it on Saturday and I have to say that I feel validated by the book. In the book, Cain talks about the Western world’s shift to having a big personality and essentially being more extroverted while disregarding the makeup of introverted people at the cost of their health and even the cost of creativity and faith in religious institutions.

A lot of what Cain has written makes complete sense to me. In my own life, I’ve always felt a certain sense of guilt from others. Why aren’t I going out on Friday night? You should get together with your friends more, you don’t get out very much. You’re so nice, but you’re so quiet. These and other sentiments have built up inside me until I was a ball of guilt that my enjoyments weren’t nearly as important as being as outgoing and sociable as possible.

And to me, that doesn’t make sense. Why should we all have the same personality? Why is it necessary for me to have to pretend I’m someone I’m not just to make someone else feel good and to stroke society’s ego?

When I look at my life, I feel like there’s a balance. When I’m at work, I’m able to see and talk to me that come in and when it’s the end of my shift, I come home and decompress by reading and then working on my creative art. And sometimes I go out and spend time with friends for a little while. That’s all I need in my life, to be honest.

I’m not here to try and make a point. Nor do I want to disregard what extroverted people have done in the world. I just want to see a balance in the world. I don’t want to feel guilt for not wanting to get out as much as other people, that my focus is in my art.

I probably just summarized everything that Cain had written, but I think there’s truth in it.

The one about the gay community.

I don’t ever recall becoming aware of what being gay or lesbian meant. I was a child in the 90’s, I don’t think it was something people exactly talked about, especially with the AIDS epidemic getting a stronghold back then. I’m not gay, so being aware of it all or even knowing what it meant wasn’t something that was even on my radar. I don’t even remember being told what being gay meant; did the person who told me sit down and say, “There are some men who want to be with men like men want to be with women?” It’s a strange thing to think about because it’s only recently that people are starting to talk about being gay/lesbian more freely and openly. It seems like I grew up and just knew, because how else did I learn about it?

The first time I knew about someone being in the gay community was when I was in my 9th grade year. A friend of mine at the time turned to me one day at the beginning of the year and told me that she met a girl in one of her classes, that they realized they were in love with each and she was in fact, bi-sexual. I can’t remember my reaction, but I remember shrugging and sort of smiling and saying “Really? Okay.”

I wish I had a bigger reaction to it one way or another, but I didn’t. It was just something I didn’t know how to react to, because how do you react to something that nobody mentions let alone talk to you about? I didn’t have enough experience with the whole LGTB community in my small Midwest hometown.

Throughout high school, there was one or two people that I suspected were gay, mostly in the theatre group, but again, it was something nobody mentioned, because why would you? Knowing the big picture now, it seemed like the right thing that people did. People knew, but they pretended they didn’t because if you made a point of mentioning it, then people were obligated to take sides and who wanted to do that sort of thing?

In college, I met a few people who were gay and lesbian. I even met an openly transgender person in the throws of transitioning. Her idea was to allow more people to see who the transgender people were and to be more accepting of their journey. They all seemed to be genuinely nice people and I have a hard time seeing them at the butt of so much hate and cruelty.

It’s a wonder that I don’t give much thought to where I stand in regards to this issue. I care enough to want people to be able to feel safe in who they are. In America, we hold ideals about allowing diversity within our borders and being accepting to everybody who lives and believes differently to us. We don’t always act like that, though, and some would say we’re deteriorating faster than usual.

I cannot account for anyone but myself. I consider myself to be a person of faith. I don’t know what it says about being gay, because I didn’t read that part in the Bible that so many people have quoted when asked why they’re against gay marriage. I do know, though, that the Bible tells me to love my neighbor as myself. It also tells me that a man stands or falls before his God, not before other people. This is enough to tell me that God wants me to love and accept everybody even if they live and believe differently than I do. It’s God’s job to judge people, it’s between each individual and God on what they need to answer to when they die. I’m not allowed to have that power.

So, in the end, I can only give you this as my answer. People need to be people and I need to love them in all their perfections and imperfections. That’s all that is required of me. That’s all the God of my understanding has asked of me and He will do the rest, whatever that might be.

Assimilation.

I saw a group of mentally disabled people today. (Is mentally disabled politically correct these days? I have no idea.) Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen a lot of different kinds of mental disorders in my semi-short life, but these people had the kinds of illnesses that you would see on horror shows like American Horror Story. And they were so excited to be going out on an adventure.

And it made me sad, you know? It made me sad that we ostracize the severe illnesses. We take their suffering and characterize them on different shows just to give us a jump or a creepy crawly feeling underneath our skins. I can’t say anything, I enjoy watching a horror movie if it’s tasteful, but why do we only see mental illness as something scary in a horror show? Mental hospitals were scary back in the day and a good backdrop for a little jump scare, especially when you know that a person can be locked up and tortured just for breaking society’s rules. I get it, I do. But maybe we need a little more variety? Assimilate those people who are a little different from us, show us that they’re not creepy people?

Because really, if the only time we see these mental illnesses is in horror shows, how can we be more accepting? I’m not here to bash the horror shows that take place in asylums because I’m not. Maybe we can acknowledge the funness of being creeped out by a corrupt hospital and feel sad for those people in the past, but maybe force ourselves to go out and spend time with these people. Think about why seeing the quirks and physical oddities of the mentally challenges freak us out and make us feel uncomfortable.

Because it does make us feel uncomfortable. Seeing something strange makes us feel that way. But if we see it more often and spend time with them more often, we won’t be so creeped out?

Obviously, being around them all the time isn’t for everyone. I’ve seen people get really frustrated at people who don’t quite understand or get it because they want them to get it the first time. But they can’t.

I don’t know what I’m trying to say here. Maybe what I’m trying to say is that we should be more understanding and willing to accept that there are people who aren’t normal in the way we think normal should be. That some people take longer to understand, that some people need extra help and companionship. And that we shouldn’t be frightened by what we don’t understand.

To Be Honest About Politics

To be honest, I hate talking about politics. Period. There is only the rare occasion when I feel it necessary to speak up about something, but only when I feel so strongly about something that I don’t mind being attacked or having an argument about it.

And that’s the reason why I don’t discuss politics or even admit to which political party I’m aligned with. I don’t want to be stereotyped and hated just because of my political party. I don’t want to be lectured about why I shouldn’t be a part of the group a person’s against. I don’t want to be ostracized.

And to realize and admit this scares me. In a country where diversity in opinions, customs, culture, and beliefs are supposed to be celebrated and respected, many of us Americans are only divided and prejudiced towards one another.

Republicans are evil and corrupted, Democrats have messed up the country; at least, that’s what it appears to be implied and said depending on who you’re talking to. And depending on who you talk to, the person will explain (or at least try and convince you) about why one or the other political party should no longer be in office in Washington.

And to be honest, I hate it. I hate that it’s an either/or situation here in America. You are either liberal or conservative, black or white. There are never shades of gray and if you are, it’s like being a square peg in a round hole. It just doesn’t fit right.

In other countries, you’ll see many, many different kinds of political parites, so many that it feels like there’s one for every day of the week, every day of the year. I wish we had that here. I wish we had different parties, different voices, different choices. No one way or another, no great divide. No hate because I’m one over the other with a difference in opinion.

And really, isn’t that all anybody really wants?

Political Parties