Being A Part Of The Group

I’ve been thinking a bit about the groups lately. Not necessarily a group of friends, just the groups we find ourselves in (or outside of) throughout our lives. I wrote about my history as a singer, in which I rejected being labelled as one and never felt a part of my school chorus during the ten years I was in the group. I blended into the background, almost as if I were trying to remain unseen and unheard. As if I was afraid of becoming too much a part of something larger. It was something I did a lot growing up. Something I still do now.

I’ve always seen groups as a threat to my independence. In high school, I was obsessed with musical theater, but I never fell into the drama club crew, which I always saw as an incestuous group, all of them dating one another, rotating through boyfriends and girlfriends, singing together in the hallways and wearing the same clothes. In college, it was the same. I saw every play the school produced, I reviewed theater for the university paper, I took playwriting courses and classes that analyzed dramatic works but I never made a friend in that clique. If someone came into class crying that their lighting designer had quit the day of opening night, I’d casually shrug and fill in. I would step into their group for only a moment and quickly fall out of step as soon as I could.

In my professional life, I have, for reasons, I’m trying to figure out, always chosen a path that veered a little off course with what everyone else was doing. While getting my M.F.A. in screenwriting, everyone was focused on writing Hollywood blockbusters or independent tear-jerkers for film, so I immediately threw myself into writing for television. In my first job out of school, I worked with social workers and teachers in a classroom for kids with disabilities. I was the only one who had no intention of going into that field. Then I worked in a company of only 15 people. 13 of them were animators and designers. I was 1 of only 2 who wrote and produced. Now, working in the toy industry, I do what no one else on my team understands, and I watch as they all talk industrial design and cost analysis, then look at me skeptically when I tell them it will take me 2 weeks to write the script.

It has occurred to me that I’ve spent most of my life on the outskirts of a group, observing it, but never fully joining in. My mother has always said, leave it to Melissa to do it differently. I was and, perhaps still am, afraid of being the same as everyone else.

I wonder about that fear. It’s a strange one. It means I’ve never actually been a part of a real group. But now, as I join writing workshops and classes and meet bloggers and writers, I think, this is the group I’ve been looking for all of my life. It’s the only group of people I want to be just like. Only took me 30 years. (Don’t worry, I won’t copy your wardrobe and date your boyfriend behind your back.)

How about you? Have you been a part of a lot of groups throughout your life? Have you felt truly a part of them?

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11 thoughts on “Being A Part Of The Group

  1. I'm not really comfortable in groups either. The only group activities I'm involved in, are a intercambio language group and my art class and even then, I'm pretty quiet. I only seem to be able to talk to the people that I know well. Even though the people in both groups are lovely, i've never really been able to fit in fully. Not fully fitting in is ok in my opnion. It means that I can join in if I want to, or be left to do my own thing.

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  2. Melissa, you have said it all as it is. I have experienced almost exactly the same feelings of being on the edge … and still do. It is not to do with age, but the personality … and possibly the artistic personality; not being different for the sake of it but because it is how you are. I love this post … and you are so right. I feel as if I have come home at last in beginning to blog … all these people all over the world, whom I suspect are like minded. I find it fantastic …. and it has taken me much longer than thirty years. It seems a little odd, but there you are …. and I keep on wondering about your book and your work and other people's photos and thoughts, or fashion and reviews.

    Thank you for releasing us with this post. We are not weird after all!!

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  3. I'm not a group-ie at ALL. I never fit in, ever. I'm always too quiet, not quiet enough, too smart, not smart enough, too young, too old. Whatever it takes for me to not fit in, I'm that, without fail. And I have a hard time with groups because, well, the strangest people always seem to cling to me, and I'm just not comfortable with that (meaning, the people who do things like close talk, don't shower, and only want to share their Star Trek obsession with me, or only talk about how awesome they are. No thank you!). So I'm definitely a solo flyer, but it gets lonely out there sometimes. 😦

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  4. I have always felt like an objective observer, no matter what group I was in…. I think that was because I was never anywhere that long. The writing/blogging world is the first time or place I've felt at home…

    (((Hugs))) my friend!

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  5. I have never been a part of any group. Until now, of course. Like you, I have finally found my niche, my place. In our little corner of the world. 😉 Writing is so solitary that when I do meet with Beth, or go to a conference, I feel like I'm yakking way too much. But I know the others understand. Because we're all in the same place. That lone place where we work and study and work some more. All with the same goal. To hold our novels in our hands. To smell the paper. Caress the pages. I love this group. I love the writers I have come to know on my journey. I love you, girlfriend! 😉

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  6. Good question! I felt out of sync with everyone else until I found lindy hop and vintage clothes. There, I found something I loved, was passionate about, and other people with the same interest. 10 years later, I stumbled on book bloggers, and have felt the same about them as I did about lindy hop and vintage clothes. So I know what you mean!

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  7. Late bloomers rule. And I say that with authority as I am. It takes time to find the right anything. Just like writing a novel or a screenplay, you can't force yourself into liking something or being interested in what a group is into just to be part of it. In many cases, you don't pick the group. The group picks up. And, speaking personally and selfishly, I'm glad for it because meeting you at Gotham and sharing our work has made me a better and more confident writer and a more confident member of the writing community.

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  8. Just to add a little but more…I guess I've never felt in the 'in crowd' either and I was the star of my high school basketball team. I was the captain, starting centre, scored the most points, etc. And, even though my teammates and I were friends and hung out and such, I always felt a little on the outside too. And that was back home in Hong Kong. When I came to the US, forget it. Outsider City! Even as I made friends here and became close with many of them, I've never really felt like I fit in. I don't know. I was talking about something similar with another friend last week and we concluded that maybe it's an immigrant thing or a mixed-race thing or a third culture-kid thing. But, like I said in my previous post, sometimes we don't find the group, the group finds us.

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  9. This is so sweet! I have the same kind of feeling about the online writing community. None of my IRL friends seem to understand what's going on so I always feel like I'm kind of on the outskirts. You have to do what makes you happy though and it sounds like that's just what you're doing!

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