In October, Sara, Chris, and I (I'm the one on the right in the photo) went to a store opening that was very exciting for two reasons: 1) I like stores, and 2) I like being invited to things, because I am a human being who enjoys feeling included.
But the thing is, no matter how excited I am to be at a fashion event — nor how much I write about fashion or buy things or wear clothes or talk about any of the aforementioned — I feel painfully (painfully) out of place. And the fault is only mine: during my short time writing about fashion and style, I have never been made to feel unwelcome or unappreciated, everyone is always very nice to me, and at least one really great conversation comes out of the, say, hour I stick around.
But I still feel too loud, too boisterous, too aware of where the complimentary cookies are at all times. I've joked that this is the "true poor" effect — that if you grew up working class or under, you'll always give yourself away by laughing, swearing, or talking too much at parties. To be honest, I take pride in it. I like that my family is working class. I like that everything I've wanted I've had to work really hard for. I like that my parents bought me things I needed, and not what I wanted. I like that I feel more comfortabe in a dive bar or family restaurant than I do at high tea. I like that I grew up — and still live — down the street from a trailer park (that my great-uncle died in). So at events where it's more fancy than "I can wear my Blue Jays jacket and not feel underdressed," it's weird.
"I feel like a comedian at a fashion event," I told Sara.
"You are," she confirmed. "But it's great! You're just being yourself!"
"Beng yourself." For a long time, "myself" weighed me down. In high school, my "weird" sense of humour separated me from anyone who didn't get it (read: my best friends, whom I'm still best friends with, thank you very much). "Myself" was emotional and had to go on about her opinion, and could quote SNL sketches verbatim. "Myself" knew the ins and outs of Titanic and could tell you everything you needed to know about the BSB lineup. She f**ked off for a while, but over the last year or two "myself" came back.
Sara was right. I was being exactly like myself. But this time, some grade 12 bro wasn't asking my friends if I shut up. This time, I got to hang out and eat cookies with really nice people.
I don't think it's a secret that most of us didn't fit in. (And that the people who always have probably aren't reading about not fitting in, because why would they?) And I also don't think it's a secret that coming into our own later in life is actually a pretty boss-ass thing to happen. Do I still care if people like me? Well, duh. If my best pals said, "You're a f**king tool and please never talk to us anymore" I would 100% die of a broken heart. (But more realistically: re-evaluate my life completely because why was I acting like such a tool?) But being "weird" or "not like everybody else" is a good thing — especially since everyone's an individual. Especially in creative industries.
It's not high school anymore. High school is over. In most of our cases, high school ended about a decade ago, and to assume the world still sees you as the grade 11 who talked about The Matrix way too much is ridiculous — especially since most of the people we're meeting as adults went through the exact same thing. Now, everyone strives to be an individual; everyone wants to be themselves. Hell, even in high school, students strive less to "fit in" than they do to be themselves. And that shit is great. (Although, for the record, if you were mean to me in high school I will obviously remember it forever and dread running into you, forever.)
So Sara was right: it was great that I was being myself, and it was fine to feel like a comedian at a fashion event — which I was — and none of that is/was bad. Different isn't bad. Being yourself (unless you're a killer or something) isn't bad. Being too loud isn't bad, bonding with servers so that they'll hook you up with cookies before everybody else isn't bad. Accidentally knocking over a display is, well, it's fine. (Look. I am who I am.) Ultimately, unless you're made to feel out of place, you're probably not out of place. You're there, wherever you've been invited to, for a reason, by people who are trying their best and doing their thing, too. This is adulthood and we get to be ourselves now. Nobody wants to really fit in, anyway.