I’ve always been a bit of a “floater.”
One of the things I pride myself in is that I am fiercely individual, but I have found that this can sometimes come with a price.
I’ve been thinking about this concept a lot lately.
I’m a “floater” when it comes to my sexuality. I’m queer or pansexual and am attracted to people of all genders. There are people in both gay and straight communities who discount my sexual orientation, calling me indecisive, confused, or a fence-sitter. (I dove deep into the concept of bi/panphobia in a post last year.) Because of this, sometimes I feel like I don’t firmly belong in the queer community and some people invalidate my presence there, especially if I’m dating a cisgender man. But I’m definitely not straight, and I don’t want to be lumped into that category either.
I’m also a floater when it comes to my gender identity. It’s a complicated one that I don’t even fully understand myself, but the closest label I can come up with is “mostly-female-but-vaguely-genderqueer.” (I once wrote a post about this topic as well…) I resent having to check the “female” box on paperwork, and I don’t really view myself as having a concrete gender.
I’m a floater when it comes to religion. I grew up in a conservative family in a conservative part of the country and was an intensely religious person myself through my formative years. It was only when I reached halfway through my Christian college education that I took a step back and examined things more critically for myself. Nowadays, I navigate organized religion extremely carefully. It is normally a place that doesn’t look to kindly upon “my kind” and, because of that, I have distanced myself from it. But I still feel like I believe in something, some higher power. And that’s controversial to many people, especially queer folk.
So I float in this weird outer strata of “religion” or “spirituality,” both wholly aware of what it is like deep inside it and also far outside. I have an understanding of its ideologies and mindsets while still being able to step back and realize how strange and creepy and foreign things sound to the outside world.
It’s kind of a weird place to be. I have extreme empathy for both viewpoints, and become slightly hurt when each side attacks the other because I feel for them both.
I’m also a floater when it comes to subcultures. I know that defining “mainstream” is tricky and nebulous, but I know that I’m definitely not that. I wear a lot of black and like weird creepy shit and have a collection of antique medical devices and Victorian mourning hair jewelry and like depressing things and serial killers and other such things that would lead some people to toss me into the “goth” or other “dark lost soul” category. But I’ve also got a bit of punk rocker in me, a dash of self-admitted hipster, and will even readily admit to loving some crappy pop. And I’m also liberal parts crazy antisocial cat lady. And also part Manic Pixie Dream Girl. And rampant feminist, but not the kind who alienates people but also not the type who lets things slide.
I know that labels are for jars and boxes are for cats, but if you wanted to shove me into a box you’d have to dismember me first and toss me into several open ones. But I guess that’s probably the case for most people. And this isn’t high school…it’s not like there’s the table for the jocks and the stoners and the art kids and the losers and the freaks. Though I guess I’d fit in best with the freaks, and I’m cool with that.
I’m also a floater with friend groups. I have thought about this a lot over the years. I don’t have many friends and it’s very difficult for me to make close ones, even though I’m a chronic oversharer with basically everyone. I’m definitely an introvert and being around people is draining. But I just kind of weave in and out of friend groups, perhaps because my own weird self-imposed insecurities about how I interact with people makes it difficult for me to feel like people want me around.
Sometimes I feel like I’m intentionally not included in things, and sometimes I wonder if it’s because I often turn down invitations because I really love staying home alone. I really don’t know what it is, but I guess I hate surface level things and the effort it takes to get to know someone beyond that is sometimes exhausting for me. Or I don’t find many people I feel like getting past surface level things with. It’s really gotta be worth it for me.
I was recently explaining to my boyfriend about how much I feel like a complete alien when interacting with some people. Like everything I say is completely and fundamentally misunderstood. My sense of humor doesn’t translate. The way I communicate confuses them. I feel like a gawky newborn giraffe or something. I’m awkward and don’t know what to say and just would straight-up rather not talk than continue on in conversation with them. I completely understand how this sounds. It sounds like I’m some elitist asshole, but I promise you, It’s nothing against them, it’s just…the effort I have to expend is so much and I’m perfectly happy without the interactions. But it does make navigating certain areas of my life fairly difficult and/or lonely.
Is that normal? Does anyone else feel like that? Like…being around so many people just makes me feel like I’m The Weirdest Person On Earth. Like I’m an extraterrestrial in a human meatsuit, attempting human interaction.
But that also makes discovering people I truly click with that much better. The problem is, there’s not many. And we usually don’t live in the same state the majority of the year or I’ve moved away. Being around people like this is such a relief because I finally feel understood and heard and appreciated in a way I don’t usually feel. I don’t feel like I’m weird when I’m around them, because we just get each other. It’s pretty cool when it happens. I don’t feel like I have to try to communicate. I just do.
These sort of interactions make me wonder sometimes if I’m on the autism spectrum. But then I realize I’m also really good at reading people and understanding emotions, which I know is often a very large part of the diagnosis. Is simply being an introvert also like this? How do I human? Humaning is hard.
This often happens when I begin to write a blog post…I start off with a concrete plan and topic and eventually meander into something else and eventually just kind of fall off a cliff.
But the bottom line is this:
Belonging is hard.
Trying to find “your people” is hard.
Maybe everyone feels a bit like I do, strung up between two completely different worlds. I feel like I’m a walking contradiction. But I guess everyone has nuance in their lives. They may just be very different from my own.
This extraterrestrial in a meatsuit is just waddling along, hoping to find a trail of Reese’s Pieces to lead me to my next new buddy.