How I Learned Not to Care About Others’ Opinions of Me

During a conversation with a friend, I mentioned I didn’t want to let everyone know that I study astrology because, as I put it, “I’ve got enough for which I can be discriminated against.”

Let’s see… I’m gay and that makes me an aberration in the fabric of the Universe.

I’m vegan and that threatens people’s sense of their own morality (or suddenly somehow makes them worry about my health for no apparent reason… wonder why that is).

I’m non-Christian. I get to be called a “woolly-headed new-ager” full of “hippy-dippy” ideas. I’m a practitioner of pseudoscience and magic – that refers to astrology at the very least. I further collect crystals and encourage their being thought of as magic. I endorse Idealism as the only coherent ontological framework and thus unfairly get branded a Solipsist, thus also a narcissist. I believe alien abductions are encounters with fairies.

I appreciate anime, play videogames, and partake of other aspects of “otaku” culture. I speak mostly-fluent Star Trek. I know all 802 pok√©mon and what each of them can do. Let’s not forget about comic books and books in general — I am a huge nerd! “Geek” applies, too. I can talk about conceptual quantum physics almost as easily as I can idly discuss the weather.

I am softspoken and often quiet, which too often makes me appear very dangerous to suspicious-minded people and extremely rude to extroverts who insist I give them constant attention like a needy puppy.

I don’t follow pop culture very closely and simply can’t dance or sing, and tend not to listen to music as a matter of habit. This frequently makes me impossible to relate to. I’m skinny, my hairline is receding, my partner has just a few extra pounds… Gee, what else is there?

Oh, yeah. I am vegan and thus a terrorist, and an activist, thus narrow-minded. I’m a “Progressive” who despises the Democratic party almost half as much as the Republicans, thus I am a threat to the nuclear family, Democracy, and the very foundations of our society. Oh! And I am arguably just barely a Millennial! That’s a huge point of potential discrimination there. Millennials, we hear, were raised by good parents but turned out just terrible in spite of that.

Oh, it doesn’t end there. Depression, anxiety, and suicidal impulses are very much causes for discrimination. The stigmas attached there are huge. I basically can not be good friends with anyone who doesn’t share these or similar stigmas. It doesn’t happen.

Infrequent use of pot or other safe psychoactive substances causes strife even with my partner.

Oh, and let us also not overlook the Missouri speech patterns I’ve picked up from my coworkers. “Ain’t” these past few months has somehow begun to pop out of my mouth perfectly naturally and that gives educated, well-bred folks plenty of reason to look down upon me. My precise speech and larger-than-average vocabulary, on the other hand, can alienate me to many plain-speakin’ salt-of-the-earth types who don’t like to be around people who make them feel stupid just by talking. A lot of prejudice is attached to speech patterns. Imagine a “white dude” from the suburbs talking like an inner-city black man — even worse, like an inner-city black woman. How’s your judgment meter looking just thinking about that?

Perhaps this list could continue. I could expand upon any of these topics, but I think I’ve said my piece. You get it. I’m fortunate that being white and Midwestern polite overwhelms most of this. I clearly come from a rigid Christian background and despite the Flower of Life pendant I wear to ward off the proliferation of possibly hate-filled crosses around Missourian necks, I can appear perfectly “normal” so far as I can maneuver my way around exposing the bulk of my identity and give people the opportunity to project their version of “normal” upon me.

Namaste, fuckers.

This is how I’ve learned not to care about others’ opinions of me.