“Austin is a big city with a small town feel.” I had no way of knowing then, but hearing my younger sister say that would help set the course for my beliefs. After that night I found myself looking at this city as one living person, each building and neighborhood acting like a different section of the brain. Playscapes and law firms; vegetarian and Tex-Mex restaurants; forests and highways clogged with vehicles whose drivers shouted obscenities, while cyclists rode patiently by. The man in women’s clothing who walks past the suits down the street probably represents us best.
I was always in the margin, and had a very unique method of thinking, but was no longer ashamed of it. This nation was founded on the beliefs of individuals acting how they wanted, with no one saying what they could and could not do, think, or believe. Our whole city is dedicated to the strange and the absurd – it’s part of our slogan. It seemed pointless to hide my thoughts from the place that sets aside three days to celebrate Spam.
Yet, I realized that acting as a five-year old would definitely not be appropriate at a job, or at school. I had to speak one language to friends, and a completely different one towards adults. Though clashing, I had to learn to do both. I may have preferred one over the other, but that would be okay. I smiled, and enjoyed what I had found out about myself and the world around me.
I’m young and still open to learning, of course. However, in the years since my pondering began, I have figured out a lot. Watching others in their thirties afraid to admit they viewed more cartoons than anything else, and hide their so-called shame, was not something I wanted to do.
Two words later came to mind in describing what I had discovered: diversity and balance. I needed to let myself get mad, but know when it was okay to let something go. I needed to give myself permission to cry, then find an activity to make me smile. I am just as content watching cartoons as I am the evening news. Dan Brown and Brian Jacques can be my favorite authors, and it shouldn’t matter. So long as no one is getting hurt, there isn’t any point in me caring what others perceive of me.
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