November 15, 2013 by Vicki
Since moving to Southern Ontario from Northern Ontario when I was in grade six, I have not fit in. In high school, I had the nickname “Mouse” because I spoke so rarely and when I did speak, I spoke very softly. I kept to myself and focused on my studies. My social anxiety stopped me from being able to make real friends. Instead I sought out people who were safe to hang out with. Generally, I would drift around outcasts like me who weren’t angry about being outcasts. I quickly learned the best way was to blend into the background. No one targets the silent one who doesn’t react.
I made my first real friend in Southern Ontario in Grade 11. She was in Grade 9 and extremely socially awkward. Everyone seemed to pick on her and, to my surprise, I found myself defending her. In return, she became my closest friend for many years. She had recently moved down from Newfoundland just as I had moved down from Northern Ontario. Neither one of us belonged in Southern Ontario. We both saw things differently than the majority of our peers. We didn’t care about the latest fashion or the latest game system. We cared about each other, our families, and surviving another year of high school.
Once out of high school, however, I found out that I still didn’t fit. I went to McMaster University in the Humanities and believed that I would finally find people of similar interests and concerns. Instead, I found that most people wanted to find the easiest way to do least amount of work and still pass. I remember one of my classmates wrote the same essays for seven different classes. I, on the other hand, wanted to learn about everything. My classes fascinated me and I covered everything from the Classics to Counter Cultures and Shakespeare to “Tracing the Sacred.” My studies enwrapped me and I ignored the simple fact that I still did not belong.
Unsurprisingly, now that I am out of Academia and in the real world, I still don’t fit. I don’t want to go out drinking. I get bored silly at most parties. I have no interest in sports or any group activity. What I have learned is to focus on the quality of my friends over the quantity of my friends. Would I want to belong – not really, the world is much more interesting from my vantage point.
I have become an observer of people. I watch others act out their own dramas and wonder at the beauty of human relations. I love going to the local downtown mall and just walking through observing. I see old friends re-uniting with hugs and wild gesticulations. I watch families help each other with the weekly shopping. Young love blooms in aisle 9 at the Grocery store over a pack of gum. I see people of different races and ethnicities working together and helping each other and wonder about the racism in the world. Most people don’t seem to notice the small miracles surrounding them, but I don’t fit so I notice everything.