Growing up, I wasn't popular. I didn't run with a popular crowd, belong to any one clique, or fit any one image typically found among the many high school stereotypes that exist. As a person, I looked, socialized, spoke as, and functioned wholly as one word best describes: DRIFTER.
In movies, The Drifter is shrouded in mystery, sometimes good, sometimes bad. It really depends where The Drifter comes from, what he or she does, and how people react to them. Not exactly black or white, but the constant there is mystery and ambiguity. Both words described me perfect back then, and they do now. Having fit no particular mold or image, my label as The Drifter often left me confused too, as I didn't really really have a set of standards by which to carve out my identity. Everything and anything was fair game, so eclectic became my trademark of being, and today, it's a trademark I've begun to make peace with. But I'll be honest, it's been a long, strange, and sometimes very difficult peace process.
In school, and even college, labels define you. In a way, they give you an identity to aspire to. Because I didn't have that, I envied those that fit them. At least they had something the world could identify them by, wheras I had to build mine from scratch. Was I a smart Drifter, an artistic one, or bad one? Could I wear trendy clothes, be distant yet friendly, have a steady bunch of friends and still call myself a Drifter? I did want companionship about as much as I loved solitude in large doses. Could I balance both? I was never sure in those days.
My thinking, offbeat humor, specific tastes, and difficulty socializing normally with my peers set me apart too. I learned a few short years ago, that my loner-like demeanor was a source of concern for my preschool teachers, who informed my mother that I should be evaluated by a child therapist. I don't think it was autism, but to this day I do lack a certain ability to form social bonds, pick up on innuedo in conversation, and find all of it very draining. Whether there's a clinical name for it or not, it's who I know myself to be, and that's OK.
Today, I've accomplished a lot of things I've wanted to do. Though I'm not where I had hoped to be at almost 29 years, I'm happy with all I've done and seen so far, and know there's only one direction to go, and that is forward. Moving, after all, is The Drifter way.
To realize this, it meant making some real peace with who I was as an individual, meaning I didn't have to be embarassed anymore about the things that set me apart. I just had to accept them for what they said about me, the perpetual Drifter. So I did. Eclectic is what I am, and drifting is my walk through life.
In a sense, I think I always knew that.