Friday, November 9, 2012

I Need a New Category for Myself

I'm not particularly girly. While I wear makeup and the occasional skirt and high heels, I've never had a manicure. I don't get excited over things like shopping sprees and spa getaways. I'm not crafty, and I don't knit. If people are coming over (I can't say I'm having a party, because I can't think of the last time that happened), the last thing that occurs to me is decorating or making a cute centerpiece.

But I'm not a tomboy, either. I played soccer when I was a kid, and I don't mind watching football games with my mom now and then. Like I said, though, skirts and heels and makeup aren't foreign to me. I never had that comfortable buddy-buddy relationship with guys that goes along with the tomboy stereotype.

Yes, I just answered my own question. These ideas of "girly" and "tomboy" that I'm working off of are stereotypes. That doesn't change the fact that I see/meet people who seem to fit in with one or the other, and I don't quite identify.

What do I identify with? Seems to depend on what group I'm with at the time.

When I'm hanging out with authors, I often feel like the math-geek. At least, that's the role I seem to play. And that definitely plays into my author side, with the whole science fiction angle and everything.

When I'm with other math teachers, I feel like the weirdo who actually knows how to spell and talk about things like "tightening prose" and whatnot. (Doesn't mean there aren't others who know, too ... but they tend to keep it to themselves.)

Am I normal in this? Is that what we do? Feel like the trait that most defines us is the one least like those around us at that moment?

What does all this rumination imply for the characters I write? Hopefully that even when a character has some traits that fall solidly within a stereotype, they also have other layers adding nuance and complexity.

That's what people are, right? Complicated and hard to categorize.

In other words ... I'm normal and can stop worrying now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On one extreme, sometimes people feel like there's nowhere in the universe they fit in. On the other extreme, they feel like they have to be exactly like their friends. Others are pretty comfortable in their own skins, accepting of their personality traits that are strengths in some contexts and failings in others. Maybe that's most of us.

Everyone has places and roles in which they feel more comfortable, and I think we all sometimes play our oddball traits up in certain contexts.

But there are some folks I've met who are bright, multi-talented, and always exploring. That may be the multi layers you've mentioned. I find those people more interesting than the ones who prune off those "oddball" traits in order to fit in with the crowd.

Maybe every single person has those multi layers, but only some are comfortable enough to let others see them? And maybe our priorities and interests change over time?

But either way, those that are comfortable enough to let us know their many traits are a lot more interesting, in my opinion.

Johanna Quille