The Out Group

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Not fitting in is a matter of perspective, because you’re not the only one who’s odd.

I was not popular in school, but it didn’t bother me much since I wasn’t particularly fond of the kind of people who were popular. Especially once I got to high school when I ended up in a group of people who were not any particular subculture, but are smart, creative, talented and above all good-humored. As opposed to the “In” Group, we were pretty much the “Out” Group.

But as I’ve grown up a bit (only a bit though, aging as little as possible), I’ve come to realize there are not a finite number of people in the world who are capable of understanding me. It’s more a matter of translating me into other people’s mental language, making myself percievable to the outside world.

A lot of people are depressed because they feel like no one understands them or they’re weird or wrong somehow because they’re not like the people around them. This is not a good rut to get stuck in. It can start even before high school, by being picked on by other kids or not understood by a parent or step-parent. But it’s up to you not to let it continue into adulthood.

Never ever try to change or deny or repress who you really are. That’s not what this is about at all. Never cover your beautiful Dark Self up with pink preppy clothes or fake giddy smiles to try and please some acceptable crowd. But do think about who you want to be, your ideal self, and then be that person, and go look for people that that person would hang out with.

The internet is really wonderful for this. The life shapes and personalities and various parameters that create odd people naturally make them spaced far apart, that’s simple logic and statistics. But those patterns do repeat: i.e. you do have kindred spirits, they may just not live within 10 miles of you.

Don’t get stuck in the mind set that no one will ever / can possibly understand you. Don’t get to the point where you automatically assume a new person will not like or understand you. Don’t get to where you find yourself working at being misunderstood, avoiding people or toning down your appearance to make yourself more invisible. You might be “safer” perhaps, but you will not be happier.

So you may have to change one aspect of yourself here or there, but that’s where introspection and meditation come in: figure out what parts of you and your personality truly define you. I mean, is being quiet and shy, a wallflower, really a defining characteristic, or are you just that way because you have a tendancy to get odd looks when you say what you’re thinking? Maybe you’re just saying it to the wrong people. Maybe you’re just using the wrong words, words that don’t clearly communicate your core ideas. Just like changing the words in a sentence doesn’t necessarily change the meaning of the sentence, so changing how you dress, how you speak, how you carry yourself, etc. doesn’t necessarily change who you are. After all, taking a low-IQ jock and putting him in black clothes and piercings does not make him Goth.

And if you live in a small town, not only look for people on the ‘net, but look for a new job, look for a new apartment, move to a larger town. I come from Union, SC, and now live in Spartanburg. I am lining up all my ducks to get myself moved to Asheville, NC, and eventually to San Francisco. The majority of the really awesome people here are a) ten years younger than me fresh out of high school or b) gone, already moved away. Don’t get me wrong, I love the friends I have, but there are sometimes things that we don’t connect on (not to mention I haven’t pinpointed a suitable male counterpart for my life adventures, not that lives in close physical proxemity all year ’round).

So if you’re feeling like a misfit and don’t care for the people around you, try going off to find some new people! And don’t be afraid to tweak yourself, be your own ideal person, and make it clear to those new people that you’re a good catch for a friend.

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I am a writer/illustrator of various types of speculative fiction but mostly modern fantasy. I have loved magic, and the people and creatures who live with it and use it, all my life, and writing and drawing these people in modern environments makes it all the more real to me. I also like to add an element of Darkness and horror, as well as science fiction, for “flavor”. I am fascinated with everything from unicorns and dragons to vampires and demons.

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