Groups and Identity

My oldest friend came to visit yesterday–we have been friends since elementary school and bonded largely over our shared rejection from a group of popular kids at the church we both attended. She’s one of the few people that I can say I’ve known for twenty years. We’re similar personality types–both Type A–and it’s been fun to look back and realize how much we’ve grown up together. We have similar epiphanies around the same time and it’s always a relief to have the conversation and know that she understands exactly what I’m talking about.

We were talking about eating healthy, as we often do. This time the conversation flowed into how diets tend to run fanatical…it’s always presented as so black and white and truly, it just boils down to whole foods and moderation. She wondered aloud why it is that people have to be so dogmatic about what they eat and I said, “I think it’s because everybody wants to be part of the group that is correct.”

“Right,” she said. “Everybody wants to find THE path and THE truth and point out that everyone else is wrong and unite over their self righteousness. The reality is, it’s not that simple. It’s about finding what works for your body…each person is so different.”

Exactly. And that’s so true in terms of life as well. Everybody is looking for that place…that group…that label that identifies them and makes them who they are, so that they can point at everyone else and say, you are NOT this and you are wrong. Much to my amusement, I realized that not much had changed since high school when we were so desperately trying to fit into a group of kids that didn’t want anything to do with us. My inner teenager was/is still trying to fit in with the kids in the popular group…they just wear different labels: first the army, punk rockers, vegans, runners, hikers, minimalists, whatever. I keep trying to fit my square peg in a round labeled hole and I just never quite fit.

I have read (because I’m a nerd and read about these sorts of things) that it’s in your thirties that you start to break free from all that. You become more comfortable with who you are as an individual and by the time you’re in your forties, you basically don’t give a damn what other people think and just do you. I feel like in my twenties, I knew I didn’t fit in. In my thirties, I’m starting to recognize that it has less to do with where you fit. Nobody really truly fits anywhere unless they follow all the rules of that group and seriously…who really truly follows all the rules? It’s more about living and enjoying life as you lead it. Stop worrying about what group you belong to or what rules to follow to be perfect, and just live to the best of your ability. Take care of each other, eat food you like, spend time with people you enjoy, and just be grateful for the time you’ve been given. Sooner or later, we will all join the exact same group in the graveyard regardless of what dogma we followed in life.

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2 thoughts on “Groups and Identity

  1. I feel like accepting who you are really is the fundamental component to being an “adult’. I can’t say that I don’t relate to the majority of this. It’s awesome to know that multiple people are dealing with the same issues, and going as far as to share them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve been wondering the same too! If this is what being an adult feels like. I still feel a long way from not giving a damn about what others think, unfortunately, but hopefully I”ll get a little closer every day 🙂
      Also trying not to overanalize myself because it’s so easy to fall into the trap of “Oh, I am having *this* issue because of this thing that happened with this person when I was a kid! No wonder I hate broccoli and am obsessive about people liking me”. It feels like such a short step to blaming and pointing fingers. Truth is we are all a little broken and are looking for ways to be whole again, whatever that means for each of us.

      Liked by 2 people

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