It is so common for people to say “we create our own reality” that it’s kind of a cliché statement at this point, and I don’t even know how much of it is true, and some people take it too far. I remember my dad telling me about a guy who decided that he fought in the war even though he didn’t, and he then believed it. That’s not quite right. But as I get older, I do realize the value of not getting lost in the reality that has been created for you. To help me with this blog, I am going to splice Kids Incorporated performances throughout. It will make sense in the end. Just go with it.
Starting in adolescence, much of my life has just been looking at everything around me and not understanding why anyone is doing what they’re doing and why they want to do it. Sadly, this has only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. I honestly do not love living in this culture. I don’t like how every other commercial is a pharmaceutical drug company telling us that if we feel unpleasant emotions, we need to take a pill to make them go away. I don’t like how someone like Katy Perry is considered an “artist” or that everyone and their grandmother watches Jersey Shore. I don’t know why enough people listen to Donald Trump for him to ever be on the news, and I don’t like how face-to-face human interaction has been replaced by computers and automated voice systems. And one thing that I really, really don’t like is how this world is made for extroverts.
I guess I'm just not a true American.
I am an introvert (an INFJ, to be precise) and if you’re an introvert, something is wrong with you. You are cold. You are socially inept. You are BORING. This is what my culture tells me. I know that I should be friendlier, just for the sake of good karma. It wouldn’t hurt to take time out of my day to have a conversation with someone who I may not be that close to for more than five minutes or to make small talk with the random person in the elevator. But the thing with introverts is that this kind of interaction is exhausting. It’s not that we don’t like who we are talking to, or that we don’t care about what they are saying, or that we are thinking bad things about them in our heads—I honestly hardly ever hate on people in my brain—it just takes a lot of emotional energy in a way that we don’t even understand.
I guess this quality does keep me from gossiping on the sidewalk, though.
I’ve had students tell me that they are glad I’m so perky in class because it helps them stay awake. I’m really glad I come off that way. What they don’t see is me leaving that two hour class and needing some caffeine and a break before I can speak to anyone else. My dad, on the other hand, who is a blazing extrovert, can teach a class, then go to his private practice and council people for seven hours in a row, then go teach another class. Different brains.
Maybe I just have a chip on my shoulder because the world isn't run by dancing librarians.
I hate those dating website commercials too, because they tell me that my introversion will ensure that I will never get married. “She’s so spontaneous and outgoing! It’s great that I found someone who had the same active life style as I do!” Why does everyone want to find someone who is spontaneous and outgoing? That’s an unstable histrionic. Us structured introverts know who we are. You can depend on us. We’re not going to go crazy on your ass and cheat on you with our accountant. But is this valued in our culture? No. Actually, the unstable histrionics are the exciting ones, right? They’re unpredictable! Something is always happening with them! And they’re HOT! I would find it really refreshing if someone came on one of these commercials and said, “I knew we were meant for each other when we could sit on the couch for five hours not talking, and it wasn’t weird at all. It’s great finding someone as dreamy and self-obsessed as me.” Then I would feel like I had a chance, you know?!
How can you get lost in someone's eyes if they won't shut up?
Okay. One thing I’ve learned is that even though there’s a lot about our culture that you are forced to interact with, it is possible to shut yourself off from certain things that you don’t like, even if everyone else loves it, and surround yourself with what you do like, even if no one else gets it, and that’s actually a big part of becoming a grown up. That’s not the same as choosing to be ignorant; you still should watch the news every once in a while. It just means that I don’t have to wear jeggings if I don’t like them, I don’t have to follow the Kardashians on Twitter, and I don’t have to pretend that I like excitement, adventure, and other extrovert values if I actually prefer a quiet night at home in my bonnet, holding a candlestick.
It's a different kind of "coming out," right?!
I wish my culture valued emotional intelligence. I wish home decorating shows weren't so LOUD. (And what's with the quick cuts? Do you REALLY think someone who chooses to watch a kitchen remodel on a Saturday needs that kind of stimulation?) I wish unemployed people could replace the computers that replaced them. I wish people spent more time reading on balconies. I wish houses still had balconies. Unfortunately, my culture is not designed specifically for me, or for people like me. So I guess I have two options: move to a different culture, or stay where I am and become the weird person who’s kind of delusional and out of touch. Since I’m cowardly and poor, the second one is going to have to work.
Most of the change is going to have to take place in your head: mind over mater.
Kids Incorporated was my favorite show when I was little, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Ah, another version of reality: breaking into hit songs of the 80’s, changing the lyrics so that they are chaste and Disney-friendly, wearing high top sneakers, and somehow, everyone who you’re around knows the same choreographed dance. Oh, and you randomly go from wearing normal clothes to being in matching costumes. I think as a child, some part of me thought this was how life was supposed to be, and then it never was, and I’ve never quite accepted it. But should I accept it? I mean, what have we learned from this entire blog post? If you don’t like what’s around you, then surround yourself with what you do like, and just be strange.
Why? Because when the goin' gets tough, the tough get goin.'
Sometimes I’m afraid of what would happen to me if I ever became successful enough to really shut myself away from the normal every day life that others lead. You, my friend, would come to visit me and the house would be blaring with minimalist classical music in one room and Phil Collins coming from the other. I’d be wearing a Cosby sweater, neon yellow pants, and my hair would be adorned with bows. Every room would have way too many lamps. Hammocks would hang from the ceilings. My home would be filled with squirrels dressed as humans. You would see my wedding picture hanging above the fire place; I married Barnabus, a man who used to be a circus freak because his beard was three times the size of his body and it glowed in the dark. We wore matching purple sequined costumes to the ceremony, and the wedding picture is as big as the fire place itself.
You would step in the living room and start telling me about a problem you were having. I’d be like, “The best thing you can do right now is really just try to believe in yourself.” Then I’d start singing “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Huston.
You’d be like, “Anyway. Have you seen what’s happening to the price of milk these days?”
I’d be like, “Barnabus and I don’t ever leave the house. We get our milk from the squirrels. Yesterday, we taught one of them how to say ‘sassafras.’”
Then you would be like, “Oh. How are you and Barnabus these days?”
And I’d be like, “Great. We only communicate telepathically. We have the best conversations. Would you like some pie? All we eat is pie.”
You’d be like, “Sorry, I’m watching my diet.”
I’d be like, “Honey, that’s what stretch pants are for! NEVER let your size define you!” Then I’d sing “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera.
Then you would probably leave, but more out of intimidation than disgust, because you see, since I would be independently wealthy, not only would all of this be accepted, but it would be admired.
How do you guys feel about this culture that we are in? What do you loathe or love, and what would things look like if it were really all just up to you?
P.S. Okay, in my hunt for the best Kids Inc videos, I came across these bizarre fan videos that I guess Fergie sent out to the kids in her fan club. It was odd how simultaneously staged and boring they were. But did I watch all of them? Of course. I have way too many musings about these videos, which I will spare you from, except I have to share my thoughts on this one. Is it just me, or is she WAY too old to be playing with dolls here? I mean, I played with dolls until I was 15, but I didn't make a video about it and send it to all my fans. I DID make videos with my dolls, but no one saw them except my immediate family. I like how Fergie is always pretending these days like she's ethnic and how she turned her voice to that weird, deep, street accent. I'm sorry, but you are the whitest, and here is proof. I read one time that Fergie changed her name from Stacy because it sounded too much like a cheerleader, but she WAS cheerleader, as you will see, if you watch the rest of these videos. Why does Fergie hate where she comes from? Why did she start doing meth, and when? Were she and Wayne Arnold REALLY friends? And why do I care? Whatever, let's just judge her.
Until next time, America.