I’ve never been a joiner. For someone deeply into so many cultural things–film, veganism, games, feminism, natural healing, poetics–I have just never found a clear-cut group with which I identify.
The closest I have ever come to this was–weirdly–in my hometown, when I was still in high school. While most of my close friends were very different from me in terms of interests, we all balanced one another out in a dynamic way. We glowed with energy: debates blossomed, flamed, and receded; we could introduce each other to things we loved: designers, artists, filmmakers, music, novels. I have often wondered if this was because every one of us were artists in some fashion or another–or if we were just immensely lucky to have the kind of chemical rapport that we did. It came naturally as breathing.
In years past, I have lamented the loss of this space. Friends moved far away or dropped out of contact, busy with relationships or drowning in work. I myself got into less-than-savory activities and lost focus on my writing and the relationships that mattered to me. My communities began to revolve around parties, substances, and shutting out unpleasantness rather than inviting intellectualism and art in.
Now, so physically far removed from any of the communities that I worked to create and maintain, I am realizing that my disinterest in joining may actually be a gift–alongside with the difficulties of being unaffiliated, I have the space to move free and fluid within and without spaces of my choosing. I am not betraying a group by taking space away from it–I am in flux.
Part of me yearns to join the clique at my job–to dye my hair and drink tall boys of Rainier on the beach taking selfies; part of me wants an MFA–an insular group of sheltered creatives shuffling towards meaning; other parts want vegan friends–white yipsters bleating about local foods. But these parts of me clash.
What I really want is curious and critical friends of many persuasions–and I am very lucky to have somehow made that happen. I didn’t join a pre-established community; I have always worked to create my own, sometimes to flourishing success, and often to shrieking failure.
I am proud of the time I have spent creating space for myself. I am more proud of my active role in my own communities than I would be defaulting into a crowd.
Sometimes I am lonely; sometimes I feel alienated. But I am always capable.