Outcast…

I have a current pet peeve, becoming annoyed when people romanticize things that are really horrible like hunger. They say things like it will be a “good thing” if we don’t have so much food as if conditions can arise where people are hungry but there are no horrible repercussions from this.

Another thing many like to lay claim to is that they are an “outcast” but if you have ever actually been an outcast you might re-think that. Just that you live in a society where you can say you are an outcast… where this is allowed, proves you are a member of society.

A homeless person is an outcast of society. If you walk into a high end department store in low end clothing, you will be treated as an outcast and if you can do this as an experiment (Uranus) that’s one thing. Living it full time is quite another.

A few weeks back the soldier told me he did not talk about certain things because he was sure if he did he would become an outcast. He told me the same thing when he was 19.

Thinking about this, I realized many people would claim that they are or would not mind being an outcast and this challenged my thinking. It made me realize how grateful I am to a society that accepts me.

I have not always been so fortunate and can tell you the pain of being excluded from the group is intense and you don’t necessarily wind up, Rudolph pulling Santa’s sleigh.

Have you ever been outcast?  Do you have fears of being outcast?

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Outcast… — 32 Comments

  1. Does growing up gay before gay was in count?

    When, as a child, you hear “they” beat two “homos” to a pulp the night before and dumped them in a ditch on the outskirts of *your* town, do you keep your mouth shut about “who you are”?

    When, as a young adult, your parents tell you they’re looking forward to seeing you at Christmas but don’t bring your (same-sex) partner, she won’t be allowed in the house, do you feel like an outcast?

    When your partner gets thrown out of the Forces because she’s gay, and loses her Forces-specific professional career, do you feel like an outcast?

    Yah, I guess I once was an outcast (these are but a few examples pulled from my life).

    Today, I am happy to report I no longer am. Heck, in my country, I can even marry the person of my choice. I literally never thought that would happen in my lifetime. It still blows me away.

  2. yes. I grew up in a number of small racist towns and I was an outcast from both white and black children and their parents. I learned not to expect to be included. I learned that if I was seen at all it was as an object or curiosity.

    I did alright, because I really felt that they were not nice people and I didn’t want to play with or be excepted by them. I had many very difficult moments though. My brother had it much worse, he was really persecuted. He is 38 and and in someways just recovering now. In part, the wound will always be raw, and it will always be felt by him.

    I still don’t expect to be included in groups, it makes me seem stand offish, but I just don’t generally imagine I have anything to do with those people, whoever they are.

    Just the other day I was realizing that if I could scrape together the cash, I could take a dance class… although I have known this intellectually, there is a part of me amazed that they would let me in.

    The upside I guess is that I never measured myself against anyone else’s ruler. Not one other person in the world has ever been the boss of me.

  3. Definitely felt like an outcast growing up. In school, absolutely although did find some freedom in high school…. Always different, always, and not purposely at all. Not an outcast like a homeless person but one example- we were the poor family at the rich school. I wanted to die at a pretty young age, it was that bad– the loneliness of childhood. I love the poetry of Rilke. He really gets it…

  4. another thought, when my girls were little, we moved from brooklyn NY to a small town in VT and I took them to local things such as a story hour, and apple picking, and I really felt as if I had fallen down a rabbit hole in to another world that I had no idea existed. People in the little towns were kind to them, and no one tried to humiliate them, there were a very few stray comments, to me, but I brushed them aside. I honestly just had no idea that a world existed where people were just being nice to children… I really can’t describe it ! I knew NOTHING about this world they were welcome in, and part of my childhood was spent in small towns in VT.

  5. (((((((((((SF))))))))))))))

    i have never forgotten while i often feel like a fish out of water, i am actually very adept at blending in(disappearing.

    thank you for writing this elsa…romanticizing of poverty is something i find very disturbing.

  6. I’ve been outcast plenty in my life. I was shunned from an early age for being “different” (I was the first kid in my county to be in the gifted program), and never really fit in after that. I’m unusual for my area, there aren’t a lot of people here that share my interests and outlook.
    While I was with my ex, we had a small group of like-minded people we hung with; got thrown out of that group right quick after we split, which sucks because they were all people that I had originally found and befriended, save one.

    I’m very good at blending in and compartmentalizing, though. It’s like, “Okay, I can say this but not that with this group, and I can act this way over here but not over there.” There are very few times have I found people and places that I can be whole, natural, me. There’s always something that I can’t do/express/say/be, something that sets everyone else on edge, and it’s different almost every time.
    Like omie said, though, as a consequence I’ve never (okay, once) measured myself by another’s ruler and I’m more than willing to give others leeway. Unless they’re violent, irrational, or abusive, anything goes.

    What can I say? Secret-keeper and energy holder extraordinaire over here. *small laugh*

  7. Hmmm I don’t know if I would be called an outcast. I was talking with a friend today about be excluded by groups or the people in the groups and these groups were made up primarily of women. I took an advanced astrology class in a woman’s home and it was informal we sat in a circle on the living room floor and after class we would have a group ascension meditation. I enjoyed it the teacher was a Cappy and very earthy, but I really didn’t feel totally welcome. The Cappy teacher had her good friend in the class I believe she was a Cancer and she would get her hair cut at my shop by one of the other gals there. Whenever the Cancer gal would come in I would always say hi the last time I saw her in there I went over to say hi and chat about what the planet were doing etc.(being nice). I was totally blown away the woman TOTALLY ignored me and kept chatting with the stylist and Never acknowledged that I was there. Of course I just shut up and walked away I was horrified. I really wanted to kick her ass and dissapear at the same time. There are many other instances but I find it stange. I don’t really say I whole lot and some would consider me a little mysterious so the only thing I can think is that I make a great projection screen for others shit,lol.

  8. I’d go with yes, outcast, definitely. I got asked at the post office the other day if I was “an American” to which I stood there in shock. I speak perfectly accented Minnesotan so it was a surprise to say the least.

    There are parts of conversations that I just don’t get from people around me and there is often so much of a disconnect that I cannot form friendships. I don’t talk about TV shows, never really learned racist terms, take composting toilets for granted, etc. Most people don’t pass go but run. I often hide behind a veneer of passability – ie the gemini asc. helps.

    But the pain of being an outcast during my childhood is rarely forgotten. I was bullied because my parents didn’t go to the local church and I wasn’t norwegian. go figure.

  9. I have never been an outcast in the way I think you are describing – truly an outcast, having no-one to turn to. But do I often feel “not in” with others, like I think people are saying her, oh sure, alot. I only reach out/spend time with those I completely relate to, and feel comfortable with. I don’t expend any energy trying to “fit in” with those I have no interest fitting in with in the first place. I think it has alot to do also with always being very comfortable spending time alone – it is probably a curse, and a blessing. I have known people who will do anything to avoid being alone, and you can just smell their anxiety and fear, and this need to have everyone like them. I agree that in our society, being an “outcast” really does not have to be, we can all find our “tribe” so to speak.

  10. I’m sorry that anyone has been outcast.

    When someone treats me like the woman did miss, I think “oh, thanks for raising your hand”. Which means thanks for outing yourself as someone that no one would want for a friend.

    I recently emailed my Representatives to thank them for supporting legislation that helps protect children from bullying. They both emailed me back, and I was able to get in the point that Jesus didn’t teach discrimination.

    I say all of this because it does matter, and count, that you support legislation to protect everyone’s rights. You can make a difference in peoples lives with an email that only takes a few minutes to type. Be the change!

  11. I was more misfit than outcast. Still am as I live in a very Stepford-like town and I am me. I don’t hide the fact that my values are very different from the hummer driving designer wearing plastic people around here. They either look at me with bemusement and bewilderment or they don’t look at all.

    That isn’t the same as being told I can’t come in somewhere or can’t be part of my family because of who I am.

    Tam I have exactly the same kind of reaction to the woman who ignored Miss. “Thank you, now I don’t have to try to like you.”

  12. I have been picked on when I was a kid and it was not fun. But never an ‘outcast’, like ‘you aren’t welcome in here you bladdy prawn!'(the aliens in District 9)
    Conversely I am often drawn to outcasts, as is my sister. She does work with human rights of indigenous peoples and refugees, but I am just more interested in their stories.

  13. Which means thanks for outing yourself as someone that no one would want for a friend

    …totally…used to find this insulting and now am thankful I have one less person to worry about. funny, it happens a lot less to me now that I dont worry about it…used to hurt my feelings, and deeply too.

  14. I’ve been shunned plenty of times, but never what I’d consider an outcast. I guess I think of an outcast as someone who is being shunned from people who have things that person really *needs.* Not just friendships, but shelter, food, clothing, a job, etc. In my case, I’ve been shunned socially, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t walk away from.

    I have had my own internal sense of isolation that has been with me for a very long time. But that doesn’t really have anything to do with society.

  15. I was never an outcast. I think that people who romanticize being an outcast and try to be different might be expressing a frustration with the group they are identified with, and wish to shrug off that identification and its associated values/histories. I can empathize with that, and I find it’s a common experience for many N. Americans when they’re young. I imagine most would recognize though, that that experience is not comparable to being systemically marginalized by society for reasons beyond one’s control.

    I also dislike romanticization of hard times, esp with the naive idea that society will “evolve” in response, that society will hit rock bottom first before it transforms itself etc. It glosses over the tremendous human suffering that revolutions and social upheavals entail and strikes me as somewhat blithe.

  16. Also the fact that social upheavals do not always (or even usually) improve conditions for the citizens in any measurable way. Poor under this regime, poor under that regime.

  17. My heart goes out to everyone who’s posted here for what you’ve been through.

    I’m ready an amazing book right now, “Reading Lolita in Tehran”, which addresses repression of women to the core. Physically and emotionally out-casting one half of the population. I’m thankful to be in the US for this.

    And to romanticize poverty is to deny it.

  18. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and it’s taken a day to decide what to write. I’ve been in situations where I experienced something akin to being an outcast. but I always knew I could change my circumstances and therefore change my role. therefore I was not truly an outcast. but I think it made me capable of sympathizing with those who truly are outcast.

    separate from those few experiences, as a child I went through a short stint where I was abandoned, neglected, and singled out as a pariah. at the time I didn’t have the maturity to realize it was temporary and that I was not worthless or unloved. it warped me. but it also enabled me to find a place in my heart for those who experienced the real thing, whereas, thankfully, I only touched the corner of it.

  19. I’ve fetishized counterculture/the lives of artists/madness and the idea of being unique, which often skates into outcast territory. Living the life of someone like Van Gogh might not have been great.

    I think a lot of people forget how painful it is to be a real outcast or actually poor. A middle class kid fetishizing “street cred” might fail to realize that a middle class lifestyle might not seem so bad to someone living in the actual streets.

  20. i found it easier to be an “outcast” (i’d call it an outsider) in japan than in america. when you look the part by not physically fitting in there’s sometimes a feeling of absolute freedom. people are going to project whatever they want onto you, so it doesn’t really matter what you do/say/etc. here (u.s.a.) i speak the same language and have somewhat similar appearance as others but boy, is the feeling of not belonging so much more insidious.

  21. “just that you live in a society where you can say you are an outcast… where this is allowed, proves you are a member of society.”

    Based on that definition I can say I’ve never been a outcast. I was different and it didn’t help in many situations but I guess most people can say that about some time in their life. There were times when being different paid off as well.

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