Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Feeling Like an Outsider

Throughout all of my school years, I was a bit of a loner, felt like an outsider. I occasionally tried to fit in, I would try to do or say something funny, but it came out awkward since I was so painfully shy. My shyness improved a little as I went along, but never really that much, even by high school. I guess I attribute it to the fact that I was always on the 'chunky' side, you know, a little overweight, and felt like everyone was always hyper-aware of it and made fun of  me. In reality, every child in school is struggling to fit in, feel normal and learn to love themselves. Some of them put on such a great act, however, that we are always convinced we are the only one, singled out who doesn't fit in.

Now, thanks to social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and the like, we have all gotten in touch with all of those people from the "A Group" or "B Group" who we didn't think accepted us, and for the most part are good acquaintances and sometimes have even formed what we deem as unlikely friendships with those people who never gave us a second glance back in our school days (or so we thought). It's funny how we waste time feeling that way, when we could have been friends all of that time, and could have made one another feel good about ourselves, and made those teen years magical instead of so painful as they were at times.

Rewind for a moment, back to elementary school. When I began first grade one of my clearest memories was walking around all alone on the playground at recess collecting beautiful fall leaves. I would save these in a safe place, and take them home to my Mother. Do you know that she still had these in her cedar chest until the day she died? 

Oh and the rain, I remember being excited to be in school on rainy days. The classrooms had a comfortable, soothing darkness to them, and the sounds of the rain made it feel all cozy, at least to me. That same feeling stayed with me throughout my school career. Then if I got lucky enough for a rainy day to be combined with the unexpected surprise of "Movie Day" in English class it was such an awesome bonus! 

Oh I have always loved books, reading (even if I haven't always read as much as I should, I still love books). Hanging out in the library was such therapy at times, the quiet, the ability to isolate yourself and dive into a story and meet all of your 'real friends'. Is this something that is common among those like myself, who find more comfort in hiding from the world than being trapped in crowds? Maybe. 

Nowadays, my laziness has led me to the beloved "Audiobook", which take you to another world if the narrator does the story justice. On the flip side, if the narrator is terrible, it can drag you down into the worst nightmare. Audiobooks are risky. Either way, my preferred order is (if a movie has been turned into a book) to see the movie, and then read or listen to the book, as it fills in all of the details, thus enriching my mind and experience. If done the other way, the movie never fails to disappoint, since it's always going to pale in comparison to a book... Take my advice. Watch the movie, then go read the book, and enjoy discovering the vast secrets and hidden treasures that no Hollywood movie could ever hold.

Let us walk now, into my High School English class. Mrs. Jubb had recently introduced us to the heartbreaking page-turner, "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton. Within the pages of this book, we were transported into a time where things were simpler, more cut and dry. Friendship was true, your "squad" really did ride or die, had your back and would take a bullet for you (figuratively and literally). Goodreads states, "According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for "social") has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he's always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers--until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy's skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser." 

So in essence, this story was already trying to illustrate to us these "differences" we chose to have with one another made no difference at all; that every one of us bleeds the same red, grieves a loss and feels the same crushing devastation through life's pain. Yet most of us choose to treat one another as "Outsiders", not even giving ourselves a chance to get to know each another before making such judgments, and missing out on knowing some amazing fellow travelers of this harsh world.

One magical rainy Monday morning, we walk into class, and lo and behold Mrs. Jubb has the VCR set-up which immediately gave you that little thrill in the pit of your stomach, knowing that at least the next couple of days would be spent with the lights out, watching the teacher's selected movie. We had read the book, now she was bringing us the film version of "The Outsiders". Though this wasn't my preferred, order, in those days we offered no complaints. I mean, class movie day was movie day, right? We were all just relieved for the treat of not really having to think for a period. 

Oh the movie brought the characters to life, and of course we all picked out our favorites, formed our "crushes" on some of the characters, and it gave us faces to put with those immortalized in the drama on screen there, in our cozy little classroom. All of us there, from different walks of life but at the time worried about the same issues, deadlines and commitments since we were young, and tests, reports and who didn't like us were our biggest worries. Funny how that can still seem true, even now, but we think that the issues are REAL since we are adults... so we let the pressures of "reality", and "time" (both of which are illusions) cause us to go out into the big bad world, and through our actions, leave someone else Feeling Like an Outsider.

I think we should go back and catch up on our reading and try to remember the feeling.

"Life Turns On a Dime." (S.K.)
"Tempus Fugit." (S.K.)
"Stay Gold" (S.E.H.)

Besides, Nothing Gold Can Stay... right? Life is a temporary condition. ;-)

Nothing Gold Can Stay (Robert Frost)

I Miss My Childhood, Aunt Jackie (Jax)


  1. "Outsiders" was huge in the 1980s. There was such a buzz around the film and books. All the kids wanted to see the film and of course read the books. It's one of those stories you don't forget.

    I always felt like an outsider too. There are so many cliques and standards that kids place on one another, that it becomes hard to find yourself. But lucky for us we had strong mothers and good families and our creativity to fall back on. It's a tough journey but one that helps you figure out who you are and the kind of person you want to be.

    Movie day in English class (or any class) was always fun. It was like a free pass afternoon, where you could take it easy!

    It's so sweet that you collected those leaves for your mom and that she saved them for all those years. Love that. Beautiful post Jax. So heartfelt and took me way back. :)

  2. I am so glad you enjoyed that, I am really enjoying trying to write and contribute more, seems to be helping get my creative juices moving again. Hope you're doing better with it all too! <3

  3. Aunt Jackie- I've been wanting to post a comment. I was a lot like you were growing up. I think, growing up in the '80s, I was blessed to have had my teen years during a time when nonconformity was considered cool and was often the subject of movies. This may have been a leftover result of the 1960s, but even by the '80s being "different" and "not fitting in" were often treated in a supportive way in movies. The Outsiders was definitely one of them. So many others too, from the '80s (Breakfast Club, Goonies, Heathers, Stand By Me, Revenge of the Nerds, Pretty In Pink.) and previous eras. As a noncomformist outsider myself, I honestly dont know how I would have made it through my teens without these supportive images on screen and elsewhere (books also). (A great '70s movie which I love, very much of the '60s and early'70s era, was "Billy Jack." (1971) Very much an outsider's movie. Although I would skip its very overdone 1974 sequel!!)


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