Thursday, 15 April 2010

Out on a limb

I'll let you in on a secret. Although, as you know, I'm a conspicuous oddball guaranteed to have quirky opinions on just about everything, there's a little part of me that hankers to be 100 per cent normal and conventional.

I'm quite used to being different. I've been out on a limb my entire life. I've never fitted easily into any familiar category - the tough guy or the doting father or the sex maniac or the sports fan. I have a natural tendency to veer off down a side street, leaving everyone else behind.

But I'm never entirely comfortable with my maverick mind, partly because I come from an extremely conservative family where unorthodox opinions were always regarded with suspicion and bemusement. I still sometimes wonder if my opinions are genuinely held or whether I assume them just to be the fly in the ointment or the devil's advocate.

So there are times when I think life would be a lot smoother, and my relationships with other people a lot easier, if I were as normal as fish and chips and as easy to understand as Mr Average. Or even Ms Average.

I wouldn't have to exhaust myself trying to explain why I'm a vegetarian or a socialist or a Buddhist or why I'm masculinity-phobic. I could happily trot out my mainstream, run-of-the-mill opinions and people's eyes would light up with eager recognition.

Of course I know it's not as simple as that. I know that in reality there's no such thing as Mr Average or a "normal" opinion and that other people can feel out on a limb as often as I do, even if they seem utterly conventional. But it doesn't stop me, in moments of desperation, trying on the clothes of Mr Regular Guy. And thinking they might even fit.
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Eeek! Jenny is still stuck at York trying to get back to Belfast, grounded for a fourth day by the volcanic ash from Iceland. Her trip to Barcelona has been cancelled. The ferries are now booked solid. How will she get home? Watch for the next gripping instalment....

30 comments:

Kate said...

Stay as sweet as you are Nick - I tried pretending for a while but it didn't make me happy - I've always been different too - loosely labelled a Hippy but with a lot more going on!!!

Nick said...

Kate - What a fine vote of confidence. Thank you for that! Yes, pretending soon gets even more tricky than being one's oddball self.

Baino said...

Nick I'm sure you could give the 'impression' of being normal and boring if you had to but I prefer you quirky, Buddhist and vegetarian and a little left of centre. It makes you interesting! We're all 'different' under the skin, some of us are better at hiding it than others. Frankly, at our age, we can be true to ourselves and bugger the rest.

Wisewebwoman said...

Nick,
isn't it funny how we can get trapped by the concepts of masculinity and femininity. I much prefer the whole spectrum of
existence.
We can careen freely all around it. I know artistic poetic men who wear coveralls and crawl under their cars. I know tall tough bruisers who cry after killing a wild duck.
You are perfectly fine as you are and I for one, think your opinions on life and love and the rest of it engaging and well thought out.
Keep it up dear old blogmate.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

Baino - Funny, despite my advanced age I still don't feel I can be entirely true to myself. Hopefully the inhibitions will lessen.

www - It's very difficult to be one's real self regardless of gender roles. They are expected of us in so many subtle ways. But I'm always trying to crawl out from under them!

Suburbia said...

Yep, sometimes normal is appealing, and then you realise it's also a bit dull!

Love the pic!

Leah said...

I hear you on this one. I am pretty adept at "code-switching" in different real-life situations, but in general people can suss out my eccentricity...

And I agree with the others--I find you and your eccentricities totally delightful.

The best of all is when you find others who don't make you explain yourself too often, unless you are in the mood--for I am suspicious of people who make us explain ourselves--even having one or two of these people (a partner, for instance) makes all the difference.

As for the idea that some of your tendencies are contrarian, well sure maybe initially but it hardly matters, as I'm sure your beliefs, practices, and habits held genuine appeal for real reasons even at first! If you see what I mean...I know I'm being a bit convoluted.

xo

Leah said...

p.s. I meant that having even one or two people who don't make us explain ourselves is a good thing.

e said...

In my time on this planet, I've yet to meet a "normal" person, as the concept is quite relative...I have never been "normal" either.

Be the best Nick you can be, and learn to embrace yourself...

Megan said...

You're smarter than the average bear, that's all. It's a blessing and a curse.

Hullaballoo said...

Nick, thank you dear blog chum for your lovely supportive comments over at mine {Nick}.

I admire your quirkyness and appreciate your tangential way of viewing life.

I also come from a conservative family and have a similar experience of questioning my views when they appear divergent.

A vegetarian, buddhist, socialist, eh? You are going to tell me you read the Guardian next, THEN I will be shocked lol.

have a lovely day, Nick.

Hulla

xxxx

Nick said...

Suburbia - You're right there, normal may be easy but it's very very dull.

Leah - True, people can sniff out eccentricity in a flash, however hard you try to disguise it. So why do I even try? I agree, when people ask for explanations, it's often so you'll reveal something they can tear to shreds. Yes, at least Jenny understands all my idiosyncracies! And I know my opinions etc are genuinely held - except when self-doubt overtakes me.

Nick said...

e - Indeed, we're all adept at pretending to be normal, but just scratch the surface and everyone's lunacy comes pouring out....

Megan - Too true, smartness is both a blessing and a curse. Especially when I'm trying to be too clever by half.

Hullabaloo - Yes, the curse of the conservative family eh? If only I'd been born into one of those fervently socialist households, maybe I would be more self-assured. Er, actually I read the Independent. How shocking is that?

Nick said...

Megan, sweetie, your blog now seems to be "invited readers only". Can I be invited, pretty please? Or is it just a temporary glitch?

kylie said...

what makes someone eccentric?
and whats so bad about socialism?

i have cherubs to tuck in but i will be back :)

mwah

Nick said...

Kylie - What makes someone eccentric? If I knew the answer to that I would be a very rich man. What's bad about socialism? Try asking any US Republican and they'd probably rant for at least three hours.

Rummuser said...

You sound perfectly normal to me. The others are the ab or sub normals.

Nick said...

Ramana - Ooh I wouldn't like to describe other people as subnormals! But yes, from the Indian viewpoint I must be very normal. A vegetarian, Buddhist socialist would probably fit in nicely! Perhaps I should consider emigrating....

meno said...

I think the times i am glad i am not made in the normal mode outweigh the times i wish i were. In any case, there isn't a damned thing i can do about it.

Nick said...

Meno - True enough. As it says on the heading, I don't know how to be anyone else. Perhaps my real hankering is just for a less complicated existence.

Liz said...

You should try being a Christian!

I was taken out to bingo by some young friends. As I struggled to get into my broken-zipped coat, one of them said, 'Now I remember why we brought you: to make us look normal.'

we serve as a warning to others! Much better not to be normal.

kylie said...

i think socialism is a pretty good thing and what have republicans got to offer?

as for eccentricity, well, i barely notice it. theres a guy i work with who is quite eccentric and i am continually asked "isnt g eccentric?"
"isnt he very feminine?"
"he's such a geek"

and on it goes. you know what? he notices my handbags and tells me when i look nice and i dont give a toss about the rest. i dont think he's eccentric, i just thing he is g

it's too draining to be someone we're not so just be nick, i like him

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Despite the best efforts of my conservative family, I never managed to fit in either. My mother once made me a wall hanging on which a flock of white sheep faced one way while the single black sheep faced the other. She said it was because I was the black sheep of our family. And like you, I used to wonder if I was spouting my real opinions or just being contrary for the fun of it.

Interestingly, the generation after mine admires me for it and even thinks I'm cool. (They're wrong, of course. But I see no reason to tell them that.)

Sending good thoughts to Jenny and all the other stranded travelers.

Nick said...

Liz - Nice one! Of course it works the other way round, the ultra-normal with their hysterical tabloids and junk meals are an awful warning to US.

Kylie - Ooh another androgynous one-off, what fun! The snide remarks from others just show up their own insecurities and small-mindedness. G sounds lovely.

Heart - Your mum's wall hanging was very mean. Parents above all should accept you for what you are not what they want you to be. Actually I think you're cool too...

kylie said...

did you somehow arrange that volcano so you keep voluptua around?

Nick said...

Kylie - Damn, busted. I have some very good mates in the Icelandic Weather Centre and I had a little word in their ear. They've really done me proud!

Val said...

Be different. Be yourself. It's the only way to be.

I spent most of my childhood and teens and twenties trying to 'fit in' and not succeeding. I spent a lot of my thirties and forties questioning whether it was actually possible to do so. And now I'm in my fifties and heading for sixty I no longer give a damn. I'm me - if people don't like it, tough.

Nick said...

Val - Funny, even though I'm in my sixties I still have a tendency to try and fit in. I still don't have the confidence to just be myself and to hell with it.

Val said...

Maybe it'll happen in your seventies... or eighties.
:)

Nick said...

Val - Here's hoping. If I live that long of course. My father died when he was 70.