Land of Misfits

The past weekend featured the trifecta of why life is amazing.

Throughout middle school, high school, college, post-college, whatever-adult-life-is-called; my mother and I have gone around and around about myself “rebelling against the system”. I’ve pleaded with her over and over that it isn’t by some innate desire to rebel against factions systems of society; it is merely just a different scope in which I see my own world play out.

I am blessed to be in the land of misfits.

What are the misfits? They are the anti-thesis of the cultural norm. They are not necessarily revolting against a set society, but they have their own lives that do not necessarily always mesh within the confinement of boxes and parameters created by the status quo. In many instances we can see through the lens of the norms, the standards, the expectations, the highlights, the people that go about the majority and do their thing to benefit the world that encapsulates them.

I want to share my time with the misfits though.

Three specific groups throughout my staggering thirty years of life, only upon reflection, have truly stuck out as the misfits of their own organized norms…

World of Running
The road marathon runner. For the record, what you do on the asphalt is something that I could not manage to figure out in my own life. Between the speed, turnovers, and endurances on hard pavement; I am not strong enough to be you.

We know about the marathon runner. From the iconic run of Marathon, to the #Breaking2 highlight through Nike. Sprinkle in the joys of the Olympics, Boston Marathon, and other staggering large events and it is no surprise that the marathon captivates audiences from around the world. 26.2 miles, not matter how you spin it, is hard to complete. Find a local marathoner and give them a hug.

Misfits: The trail runner. I do not know what has possessed people to believe that running in the uncharted wilderness is a good idea, but between Katniss Everdeen and every video made about cruising along mountain tops, trail runners are the misfits of the running world.

They look like hippies. Decked out in gear that could be mistaken as a washed up, washed out California surfer; these people defecate in the woods, sometimes just for fun. They eat cheeseburgers while they tromp amongst the trees. They participate in the rain, snow, hail, floods, tornadoes, and wild fires of the world. There is absolutely nothing stable about these people. Trucker hats, plaid, and even a random pair of jorts; these modern day minimalist of society are always smiling, always eating, and…well…always pooping.

World of Education Competition
Norms: In relation to the world of education; competition tends to take the form of football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, cheer, dance, softball, underwater basket weaving and so much more. Our students are engaged in peer interaction outside the classroom as much as they are in the classroom.

I was blessed with amazing teachers. Some of them were coaches. They had their morning process; cup of coffee, local newspaper, sports section, call in the captain of the team they coached, talked plays, taught classes, went to practice. Rinse. Repeat. In the small town I grew up in, in many ways, they were our hope of finding a place on the map. Competition was not just something that came with being in school; it was an expectation. Your father, yourself, your mother, your sister all played for the same colors. You screamed, painted your face, road a rackety bus for hours to another small town just to score in the final seconds. I still listen to my mother talk about her world as a high school and college athlete, and the world of being a coach. I’m envious because I do not have that skill, but her stories allow me to dream about that amazing, huge, ever evolving world.

Misfits: They are the people that talk to lockers. The ones who wear suits and ties on Saturday’s. While the quarterback is sleeping off their four touchdown victory from Friday night, these individuals are talking to their partner, reviewing their cases, and reciting random bits of text from authors many of us have never heard of.

They are the speech and debate nerds of the education world. While the stereotype is to speak about the ‘academic’ process of the student; the truth is that you will be challenged to find people more curious about themselves outside of a debate student. They question everything, research anything, and make bold internal decisions that many others will not even approach until at least ten years later in life. They are daring enough to disagree with another of their same species. They are bold enough to share their own personal stories of hate, disability, disease, rejection, in a way that sways, captivates, and persuades even the coldest of hearts. They are not winning the game in the final seconds, but they are still holding their trophy after going 5-0 through preliminaries and finals in public forum over a resolution about missile defense systems in South Korea. They are not the goal scorer, but they may be the world changer.

World of Music
Norms: The world of the symphony or the local county fair. Dressing up, getting down, and making a night of good music and good friends. It is the experience as much as it is the strings, vocals, and steady grooves of the night. From jazz to acoustic to rock. The lights come up, the crowd falls silent, and the musician steps out to the greet the world on any given night.

For some it is a breath of nostalgia, a taste of “what was”. Others, it is the beginning of those memories, so that twenty years down the road when dealing with their own wrinkles, they too may have that moment of history. It is allowing music to remind us of what was, and at the same time show us what could be. The concerts put the individual in a moment of recollection of thought, and also a quick breath of inspiration. The venue provides the chance of selfies and hugs. Tears may be shed, voices may be lost, and even in today’s world a lighter has been switched out for a swaying smartphone of unison towards hope, love, and all good things with each piece of melody. The concert is the opportunity to relax, refocus, and enjoy all things beautiful about human ability.

Misfits: They wear leggings with holes, outfits of single stitch in the design of elephants, and occasionally a unicorn can be spotted along the crowds. The venue is dark, the crowd is loud, and the world is waiting for ‘the drop’ to come from the select few who dare step up on stage. Dark areas are highlighted by the crowds covered in glow-in-the-dark body paint, beads, and bikinis.

Welcome to the land of the rave.
The ravers are real. Outcasts that have clung to the darkness knowing that they can create their own light. The venue may seem charged, but it is nothing until that one DJ, that one person that made those mixes that you found on Soundcloud on a random Saturday afternoon, welcomes you to their party. The music starts moving at a calming 500 beats per minute. The tempo is so fast that you are fearful of your own heartbeat. It reaches the summit, the top of the rollercoaster, and in one split second you are your own free fall. The crowd silence itself for less than a fraction of a moment, and then it hits. The drop. You cascade through the elements of electronica as the bass moves your organs into new positions while you jump in the middle of the floor. There are no chairs, no seats, no “GA”. There is just an opening where you and every other random stranger that feels that do not belong when the sun is up, is gathered all at once. You find the 9-5 office worker, the single parent, the aged retired industrial worker, a college student and his buddies, and people still looking for their own mission in their life. There are no strangers in the land of the rave, because everyone has already accepted how strange they really are.

I love playing in the land of misfits. I have nothing against the rest of the world. It can continue to turn, and I will continue to play its game. However, when the game is over, and everyone has gone home. I’ll grab the nearest court briefing, the smelly handheld water bottle that still hasn’t been washed, and my favorite tank from that ‘one rave in ’17 at The Truman’, and enjoy my own land of misfits.

A place where I belong.


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