I’ve made a career of unintentionally being non-mainstream. First I was one of a few non-white people in our very conservative campus ministry group; somehow I found the one guy who would “overlook” my brownness and who could “handle me.”
Then I went to work for a Catholic university, one of two female members of the senior management team where I was “too enthusiastic” about my job.
Finishing a PhD and then deciding not to teach – this may have been the start of self selecting since for most academics, working in student affairs isn’t considered the main core of university activities.
Later I was the only non-Arab, non-Muslim in an entire building of people but I “didn’t need to worry so much” about the still un-booked plane tickets for an upcoming trip with students.
Now I am head of a department that is not the main mission of the company but “very important.”
I am generally on the periphery. Lurking, shouting, dancing, jumping, creating. Make enough noise and people do turn around, pause in what they’re doing to notice you.
But wouldn’t it be so much easier to be in the center?
Life is probably very easy there, productive, even fun. You’d get all the attention and praise without any of the work, worry, irritations, anger, insults.
I don’t know why I’ve never considered the center as an option: life with the same job, the same house, the same friends, year in, year out, the same same, never really different.
Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a chaotic household and things were rarely the same – except for the cast of characters. We never knew when there would be another move, another job, another reason to be angry and blow off steam.
Different schools, different apartments, different excuses for why we weren’t living the American dream everyone saw on television and in the movies. Most of them contributing to the same conclusion: we were here and they were there.
This uncertainty became certainty, a fabric of its own, patch-worked in cities, countries, people.
And forces conspire within me to continue the chain of disruption; we have moved houses four times in the last six years and that wasn’t my decision.
I’m going to take a break and just spot where I am.
Right here. Right now; cease and desist. Like sitting down in the middle of the road. Yeah, like a sit in. I’m sitting here, taking a stand. I’m at the point in my life where I am no longer interested in being included. Or maybe this is because of a lifetime of having to forge my own way.
You have just described my life. I have come to the conclusion that I can never settle down. What worries me is if this will turn around and bite me once life slows down.
Am still debating if life in a small town with familiar faces would be better than moving around every three years. Keep me posted if you
come to discover something encouraging or perhaps discouraging with our lifestyles. Would love to hear it.