Fitting in has been a lifelong problem for me, and it still is. I spent elementary school with my nose in a book, ignoring everyone else around me save for a single friend who left when I was 10. Anytime after when I was occasionally invited into a group, or forced to be with them, I was tagging behind and not fully understanding what was going on.
I got used to it though. Maybe I was just naturally an introvert, or maybe it was because of my hearing loss, or a combination of factors. My Mother and other female relatives tended to be the same way, keeping to within the family unit for socialization and at-work acquaintances, so this could even be a learned behavior. Either way, except for a few fun years in high school, this was my reality and I learned to accept it as is without much of a problem.
Then along came heathenry.
Delving into that forced me to confront issues of community and family, where the ideal is that an individual is not really an individual, but is actually a part of the whole. A Real Heathen (TM) should be a contributing member of the community, with an emphasis on real-life communities among recons.
Something I’m not good at. If any reenactment of past cultures were to occur, I’d probably be the crazy lady living in the shack at the edge of town or in the woods. I can engage in social activities and put on a public face just fine, but it’s a temporary fix. On a more permanent basis I find myself more comfortable in liminal and isolated spaces, away from people and a town’s activities. Which, when looking at ideals, seems antithetical to heathen values.
Plus, to top it all off, I just moved a few weeks ago to a new city 3 hours away from my birthplace (if it could actually be called a “city”). Whereas before I was alone in thought but still had people I knew hanging around, now I’m actually, truly alone where the only people I know are a few university professors. The land is still unfamiliar to me, and I can already feel differences in wiht interactions between here and back home. I may as well have moved to a different country, the distinct feeling of being an outsider is that strong.
And yet, I’m comfortable being an outsider. Not enjoying it, but it’s a familiar place to be and I know what I can and can’t do as such.
So how heathen can I truly be without any sort of community to which I belong? It’s something I’ve been wondering about lately. I’m sure the standards are more relaxed now, since heathens are a small group and widely scattered, but still, even with online forums I simply don’t DO groups of people. I tend to interact with a few on an individual basis instead.
Is it enough to simply not be a negative contributor or influence to surrounding people? How involved must one be in community(s) for them to truly be a part of it(them) and therefore be “heathen enough”?
Something to think about. I’m just going to put it as “time will tell” for now and continue doing what has worked so far.