Maybe it’s a sign I’ve spent too long in “alternative” communities and just no longer have any conception of or desire to keep track of what’s “normal.”
I find there tends to be a lot of overlap between groups of people who have decided “normal” wasn’t for them. So it still strikes me as odd when people are a part of one group but still can’t wrap their heads around another.
Like when someone who posted for a gay-friendly roommate freaks out if I don’t have a shirt on in the house. And then tries to frame it in this way that makes it seem like I’m all enlightened and shit. “You seem to have a very… open… lifestyle and that’s great, but I want to be able to share common space with you and feel comfortable.”
So if one of us has to be uncomfortable it’s going to be me? And you’re sorry because I should be able to be comfortable in my own home, too, but… you know…
And I don’t get it. Hanging out with LGBTQ/burners/nerds/artists/etc can be really refreshing because we’ve learned to relate to each other just as people and where the boundaries are of other people being able to determine my self-expression. The roommates I’ve been able to be naked around I’ve felt more kinship with – like we were more sisters than friends.
And I like that. I love the intimacy forged in alternative communities where we just accept each other as we are and own our own issues. So why doesn’t life work that way in the outside world? Why are people not held accountable for owning their own shit and managing their own emotions? Why should I have to change to make someone else not have to confront their own issues? Why can’t we just take people as they are?
And what is it about being “open” that is so scary? I have found it to be the most liberating thing I’ve ever done. Being able to be who I am and do what I want and for the most part feel unapologetic for it is fantastic.
Why does it freak so many people out? I wish we could ALL learn to be more open. We’re all human beings and that’s okay. We shouldn’t have to be ashamed of our bodies or our desires or try to fit into some mold someone else created decades or centuries ago which is no longer relevant.
And if you can get past one of the things society is “normal” and make your own choices regarding that, shouldn’t it be EASIER to do that with other things? So how are there are these people who are still stuck in the grip of “normal” in so many ways?
Looking at my family, I wonder sometimes how I managed to be as emotionally mature and competent as I am (and trust me, I still have a ways to go sometimes).
And all I can come back to is that it was because of theatre.
In acting, we learn about truth in imaginary circumstances. In order to start building a character, I begin with me. How would I react to this set of circumstances if I was born in a different time period or geographical area? What social messages would I have been raised in in that environment, and how would that change the emotional responses I have now versus what this character might experience?
Studying performance makes it easier to see that culture is just something we humans made up, and we could make it up differently if we wanted. Some cultural messages may have had their time or place, but not everything society tells us is still relevant or useful or healthy.
Recognizing that we have the power to choose which cultural messages we internalize and follow is incredibly powerful. And also incredibly dangerous, which is why art is the first thing to be censored or have its funding pulled.
I understand that it is terribly subversive, but it is also incredibly liberating.
And I don’t think I’m super enlightened, but I do like feeling free – free to choose how to frame and build my life to one extent or another (because there are always consequences for deviating from the “norm”). I hate feeling like I have to be penned back in by anyone against my will, and sometimes I guess I grow impatient with others who I wish would embrace my difference.
But for now I guess I will have to be happy with those who do. I just wish more people would realize that they could be happier than they are if they just re-evaluated the messages they’ve internalized about how to live in the world and got rid of some of the ones that aren’t working for them anymore.
And I’d love to help people get there, too, if I can find a way to do it. Getting paid to do that kind of work would be the best of all possible worlds for me, I think.