Thursday, October 22, 2015

Who Am I? You Sure You Want to Know?

Fans of superhero flicks will likely recognize the title as the opening line to the very first Spider-Man movie, but, asking yourself who you are is a very valid question.  Are you who you want to be? Do you like who you are? Do you have achievements of which to be proud, or are they overshadowed by your mistakes? I know who I am, and it turns out I'm many things...all at once: a Christian, a library employee, a bookworm, a Disney Channel fan, a Republican, a calendar lover, a bargain hunter, a geek of sorts, a comic book reader, a fan of Apple products, a writer, a blogger, a chatterbox...and plenty more! Of course, if you're among my friends, you already knew all of that.  Those who truly know me--among whom are probably most of the people reading this--know what I like, what I don't like, and why...and they respect it. They know there's nobody else like me, but they love me all the more for it.

Unfortunately, some people have problems with my unique traits...and they kind of always have.  When I was in kindergarten, it became obvious from the get-go that I was the smartest one in the class.  I could read very well and do basic addition and subtraction...whereas my classmates didn't even know their numbers or letters.  My teacher that year told my mom during a conference, "I just don't know what to do with him," and that was one of the things that made my first year of school rather tough.  Since then, countless other people have done the same; it's telling when they unfriend you on Facebook for no apparent reason or keep your friend request pending despite claiming they'll eventually confirm it...yet, it was happening well before the dawn of social networking.  While the ages of such folks vary, it's often been people my own age or younger, no matter what age I was.  Some people just couldn't deal with my different ways, and decided to jump ship as a result.

If you're reading this, though, you're probably not among those people.  You've stuck with me for quite a while, maybe even my whole life.  I'm thankful for people like you, and it saddens me that others couldn't do the same.  As I make new friends, I hope they'll stick around like you have...but, I can't be certain; they could be gone before I even know it.

One of the things that I would hope anyone who cares about me would do is respect my tastes.  You all know what I can't stand: dogs, theme parks, sports, anything to do with large bodies of water, etc.  You also know that I have numerous reasons for not getting my driver's license or seeking out a relationship; if you don't, you should read up on me by checking some of the other most recent posts on this blog.  While some would think less of me for not doing those things because "everyone else" seems to be doing them, if you know me, you know that I'm not one to do the popular thing, and trying to get me to will get you nowhere.

Despite that, though, some people over the years have been infuriatingly insistent that I do what they knew very well was contrary to my tastes.  Back in 2004, the high school youth group at the church I was attending took a trip to the beach...which turned into a big fiasco because nobody else involved wanted to accept the fact that I wasn't interested.  When I shared my reasons for not being willing to attend, everything I said was laughed at or refuted.  I was trying to help them out by not going, because I remembered a couple of Cub Scout outings that were ruined because of one person not wanting to be there, but, my fellow youth group members never seemed to realize that, nor did the sponsors; even the youth leader discussed with me about the concept of going to an outing for the sake of someone else, not considering the fact that, to me, anything involving a large body of water, including a beach, is an earthly hell.  It wasn't just them; a teacher at my high school was bound and determined to get me to go to Busch Gardens, even though I had made it perfectly clear I wasn't interested.  She simply found it unthinkable that I didn't like theme parks...but, that's no different from someone not liking the Disney Channel; we all have our likes and our dislikes.

Though it's been a while since I've faced that, I know I will likely see it again and again...and again.  Most people just aren't used to dealing with people like me; some have known me a while, and yet don't know me at all.  While I'm open to suggestions about things to try, what people have to realize is that what I do is still my decision.  Most of you probably already know this, but, I'm sharing this for those who don't: I grew up with an older sister who had severe cerebral palsy and wasn't able to do much of anything, including walk, talk, or hear.  Having an immediate family member like her put us in some unique situations, which people on the outside didn't quite understand.  My mom had such trouble finding someone to take care of my sister that she had no choice but to open up a day care center in her house...but, people were still showing their lack of understanding of our situation by asking questions such as, "Why don't you go get a job as a substitute nurse?" Sometimes, however, there were suggestions that my mom could have acted on, but she didn't.  Many years ago, a "friend" (notice the quotes?) of my mom's found out that my other sister--who was not disabled in any way--had been taught how to change my disabled sister's diaper, but that my mom wouldn't allow me to do it...and spent about thirty minutes haranguing my poor mother as a result, accusing her of sexism and playing favorites.  After that half-hour lambasting session, my mom could have immediately decided to do as her "friend" suggested...but she didn't; regardless of anyone else's opinion or how adamant he/she was about it, it was solely up to my mom, and, to this day, I still say she made the right decision on that front.

Though said disabled sibling has been deceased for just over a decade, I still find myself in similar scenarios.  People just can't understand why I love the Disney Channel as much as I do, or why bargain hunting is a favorite pastime, or how I could have avoided Busch Gardens for over 1.5 decades when it's practically in my own backyard.  Whether or not they agree with my reasoning, I expect those who respect me to also respect my tastes...but, just like in the aforementioned situation with my mom, plenty of people don't, including those who are supposed to be my friends.  To be honest, it makes me question their friendship; do I really need such negativity in my life?

In conclusion, I will say this: Though many of us grew up hearing that everyone is special and unique, some people argue that if everyone is unique, then no one is.  While God made everyone different, he made some people more different than others...and I am one of those people.  You can love me for it and be my friend, or despise me for it and be my enemy; it's your choice.  Just don't do something you'll regret one day.