I recently wrote and published on my blog a fairly long accounting of how I am different from most people I have ever encountered. While they are quick to conform to the interests and tastes of everyone around them, I am just the opposite.
One difference is that I very much look like I fit in. No green hair or attention-getting clothing for me, which makes my outsider status difficult to spot with the naked eye.
I titled my writing “Outsider in My Own Country: Proud to be Un-American.” In the introduction, I explain my intent and how I use the term “Un-American”:
The first thing I want to do is to explain the title of this piece. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a communist. I do not seek to undermine or overthrow the government of the United States of America.
I recognize that the word “un-American” signifies to some people that an anarchist is at work. In using “un-American” for this essay, I do not intend its meaning in the sense of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy and his House Select Committee on Un-American Activities, which was created to investigate “disloyal” and “subversive” activities in the USA. Rather, my intention is to show that many of my perspectives and the ways in which I live my life are very much atypical among my fellow Americans.
I am also intentionally making a word play on the phrase “Proud to be an American.”
I have been ruminating about this essay for at least two decades. Though I have long known that I hold different perspectives from most of the people around me, it has taken my reaching the age of 72 to be able to articulate these thoughts with ease and comfort about who I am. I strive to be authentic in my own life and never to apologize for who I am just so that other people can be comfortable with their choices.
I want to make it clear that I am not writing this as a means of finding ways to argue with people about the choices that they make for their lives, as contrasted to my own choices. I hope that nobody feels criticized or assaulted for the way they live their lives. I want people to be who they are, just as I want to be who I am.
Where does pride come into the mix? I have given my life a significant amount of thought. I live it with a great deal of intention and joy. I take responsibility for my actions, and therefore I am proud of them, as they are the result of many decisions that I have made towards living a life that is true to who I am. (I go more deeply into the topic of pride in the section #13 of this piece, where I talk about my sexual identity.)
Several sections below are interrelated. It’s not easy to create entire segments of one’s life that stand on their own. For example, my entertainment choices (#6) are related to the way I feel about being an adult (#1) as well as the way that I feel about the news media (#3), and write about each of these topics later on in this piece.
My blog post is rather long because it takes a bit of time to explain each facet in my life in which I find myself outside the mainstream. Each has its own section in the larger work, and includes at least one quotation and at least one photo to illustrate it.
- Adult responsibilities and tastes
2. Cooperation vs. competition
3. Widened world view
4. Religion, god(s), death, and legacy
5. Calendar observances and time
6. Popular culture and entertainment
7. Gambling and Las Vegas
8. Narrow optimal terrain
9. Diet and health
12. Money, consumerism, and status
13. Sexual identity
If any of this has piqued your curiosity, you can find the entire work via this link: