there's always that defining moment in one's life where a decision will have to be made to follow a group or not.
for me, that moment came in senior kindergarten and i remember it clearly: her name was vivian. she had long, beautiful ringleted brown hair, always wore pretty dresses and shoes to match, leader of a group of 4 and for a 5 year old, had a mean streak. vivian loved to exclude other girls who wanted to play with the group, namely me. i didn't dress the same, my hair wasn't the same (think: black, straight, lego hair) and my one disqualifying factor: i didn't suck my thumb. that's right folks, at the age of 5, this girl was still sucking her thumb. i try not to judge but come on. i guess to be a part of this clique, you had to do the same and if you didn't, you were out. perhaps this was vivian's way to ensure that she wouldn't be ridiculed for being a thumb sucker way beyond her years and it worked - all 4 of them would sit there, sucking the thumb of their right hand while their left hand played with their left ear during story time or during assemblies. i KNOW for a fact with the exception of vivian, none of them sucked their thumbs on the regular. i know this because outside of the classroom, they would talk to me and we would play together but in the classroom, they followed their leader.
as the odd one out, i so wanted to be in their group. like, so bad that i would take their mocking and accept vivian's sneers just so i could walk with them or talk to them. when the time came to sit in their circle, i watched as each of them popped their thumb in their mouth and proceeded to fiddle with their ear and i remember thinking in my head what's so bad about it? so i stuck my thumb in my mouth and did the same. let me tell you, suddenly sucking my thumb was no picnic. it didn't bring me joy. it didn't soothe or relax me. in fact, it felt weird in my mouth and the taste of crayon or whatever the hell i had been playing with left a bad taste in my mouth. i remember thinking how stupid i felt. i remember questioning why i was even doing it and i remember coming to the realization of how fucking retarded it was for me to be sucking my thumb just to fit in so i immediately removed the offender from my mouth and hoped that no one would notice. of course, vivian did and when she questioned me about it, i stood my ground; refusing to suck my thumb like an infant. then i watched my social circle crumble before my eyes as she turned her back to me and one by one, each girl in her clan followed suit.
i didn't know it back then, but my "defining moment" all those years ago in some way or form, has shaped me into the person i am today; that my logical mind and pragmatic personality would forever govern my actions. all throughout those awkward tween and teenage years, i didn't struggle with peer pressure; if i did something, it was because wanted to, not because i wanted to "fit in". i never smoked. i never did illegal activities like break into cars, go for joyrides, steal people's things, vandalize property, break into houses or act like a hooligan. if my friends were going to do something that i didn't want to do or i thought was stupid, i simply went my own way. i also learned that i liked being on my own and more importantly, i was comfortable with it. by no means am i a leader either; that's just too much work and i'm way too lazy to put in that much effort. i'm a bit of an introvert and i have a preference for being alone; qualities that don't make a good ring leader.
because i have absolutely no need (or desire) to please those around me (except friends and family of course), my life is very peaceful. i'm happy. i don't feel any need to "compete" with others. those who try to compete with me or try make me feel like i'm "missing out on something"? not one iota of fuck is given. i do what i want and i don't care what others think or if they judge. remember: people will always judge; people will always have opinions. why waste your time trying to change their minds?