One thing that has always made me sad is when I find something (meaning, depth, clarity, hope, exuberance, joy, whatever) in something (song, short story, movie, blog post, music video, book, whatever) and someone promptly informs me that there is no meaning there and nothing to glean from that piece at all. It makes me sad because I experienced something that they are denying even exists. They will never be able to experience what I did.
On the way back to Williamsburg this time I was listening to some old CDs. If you’re an 80’s-born kid, you might remember B*witched (pictured), a late-90s pop group that fizzled out all too soon. While listening to their CD, I had such an amazing time. Back in the day, everyone seemed to want to tell me what can have meaning and what can’t and were eager to dismiss some of my music and other pursuits as ridiculous. I resigned myself to the belief that it was meaningless and silly.
Now I realize that personal meaning is exactly that, personal. No one can tell me that their song Freak Out has no importance or significance, because it does to me. And when I listened to it again, after not hearing it for probably more than a decade and relived and joy and excitement of the song and the memories that I had attached to it, fuck anyone who wants to tell me that that’s not possible. It is possible. I just did it.
Just because what I like and what I find meaning in isn’t what everyone else in the world finds meaning doesn’t mean that there isn’t any to be found. None of my top three movies (Spice World, Heathers, Stick It) ever won any major awards or received recognition from the critics. But they didn’t need to. I don’t need someone else to validate my love of something and no one else does either.
It takes a strong person to turn off the most popular song on the radio and turn on a CD that no one has ever heard of. Not going along with pop culture is difficult, but when you find meaning and fun in something, you have to go with it. There’s no amount of faking that can make you enjoy music that you don’t really like. No matter what you love, you can always find people who love it too. It doesn’t matter if those people live in another country or are from another generation.
The pressure to fit in, especially in school, can be excruciating, but for someone who’s a little different, a big part of growing up is realizing what you enjoy and what you don’t and living your life regardless of what popular opinion is. In a group as large as a high school class, it can be difficult to go against the crowd, but it can also be necessary. Sometimes being referred to as the weird kid who indulges in what they enjoys is better than having a million friends that you can’t be honest with.
When it comes down to it, it takes guts to become who you are when it’s not perfectly in line with what everyone else is. Character defining moments can be made when you come to terms with the fact that you’re enjoying something that someone else said that you’re not supposed to. The corporate world wants to think of people as demographics. But we’re not. We’re human beings and we’re much more interesting than averages.
Here’s a quote from another movie I liked that failed to garner much praise from critics. It spoke to me. And whether or not it spoke to anyone else, really isn’t the point.
Who honors those we love for the very life we live? Who sends monsters to kill us and at the same time sings that we will never die? Who teaches us what’s real and how to laugh at lies? Who decides why we live and what we’ll die to defend? Who chains us? And who holds the key that can set us free… It’s you. You have all the weapons you need. Now fight!