I’m different. Maybe you are, too? I don’t follow big sports. I’m sure there are lots of men out there who don’t. But where I live at least, you’re pretty weird if you can’t have a passionate discussion about sports with someone you don’t know.
I’ve always been different. Maybe you can relate? I was into breakdancing, skateboarding, and BMX freestyle bike riding when I was young. And when I was old, too. I am attracted to individual challenges and don’t really want to be part of an organized team. I like doint things with friends, but I prefer to compete with myself, I guess. I never went to church either. Maybe those things are related, I don’t know.
But Super Bowl Sunday is coming up and I figured I’d write a bit about being different.
I like myself and I like being different. Sometimes I wonder if I don’t do it, at least a little, on purpose. Just to balance the world. Someone has to take the opposing viewpoint, right? But I believe I have followed my heart. Certainly when I was younger. I did what I liked and those things happened to not be very popular. Or common. Or socially acceptable.
In the early days I was bullied for being different. I was young and scrawny and a pretty easy target for adolescent bullying. That probably served to reinforce my dislike of football, organized religion, and other ‘normal’ or ‘average’ or ‘popular’ pastimes. I have read that discovering ourselves in adolescence is largely a process of loudly proclaiming what we are NOT, and I think I might have accentuated my like of the unusual by creating an identity that was counter-cultural. As I grew up I calmed down a bit.
Because, really, I like football. It’s fine. I don’t mind religion. I have nothing against the actual pastime of interest. What bothers me are the fans or zealots or members of the communities who try so hard to be evangelists for their particular pastime of interest. Fans can be rabid in their support of both their team and their sport. I have met many people who actively pursue new members to their congregations as if they were elected representatives of their respective churches. Why can’t these people leave me alone and enjoy themselves without me?
It’s at the point of conflict that I break down. I’m fine if you do your thing and let me do my thing, but when you start in on what I do or try to draft me into your world I kind of lose my shit.
Don’t assume I care who wins whatever game is coming up, or that I’m going to watch it, or that I know any of the players names. I don’t come up to you and ask whether you prefer the clawhammer stylings and comedic talents of Stringbean or if Brad Keith represents the most meaningful interpretation of banjo playing in Bill Monroe’s bluegrass boys. No, I understand that you might not have the same interests as me and therefore I don’t try to have conversations at fine levels of resolution about OPTIONAL pastimes.
I also don’t appreciate you assuming that I need an education about a particular religious gospel. I don’t. I actually educate myself about such topics that I might be interested in. Your need to adhere to some structural requirement to ‘expand the flock’ is annoying at best and a violation of my rights to not hear about it at the worst. You are invading my space and I don’t appreciate it.
And don’t get me started about the guy who randomly stops by my HOUSE to see if I want to buy some steaks. When I want to buy a I GO TO THE FUCKING GROCERY STORE, ASSHOLE.
Whew, that feels better.
So the being different thing is important to me. It’s a part of my identity. Those of us who do not want to be associated with the norms, or want to think for ourselves, or follow a different drum beat. Or whatever. We don’t particularly care to separate ourselves from society, but when we are lumped into the same piles as your average every day Joe and Jane, we are triggered to speak up and identify ourselves. We don’t appreciate having assumptions made about who we are and what we represent. We don’t go around drafting new members or perpetuating societal norms, so you may now be aware of who we are, but in assuming we are the same you make us defensive.
The ‘narcissism of small differences’ concept may be, in part, at play here. For some reason some of us don’t want to be lumped in with ‘the masses’. There may be some active, cognizant need to remove ourselves from the fray and I’m not sure why. For some of us, the need for independent identities is strong. For others, the need to belong to a larger group is strong. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong or right about either approach.
My point is that there are different approaches. What works for you might not work for me. And my group of largely introverted and self-reflective types, does not have a strong need to announce who we are. Rather, we find this need coming to the surface largely when we are threatened by inclusion into a more popular group.
So to those of you who will be unwillingly dragged to a super bowl party this Sunday, rejoice. You are not the only one. You don’t have to feel bad for not liking it. There are lots of us out here that don’t like it either.