At the weekend I went to my first-ever zine fest at the invitation of a couple of people I know on Twitter. I have never been to a zine fest before, or even read a zine, but I had a great time meeting my friends (and seeing old friends unexpectedly!) and taking in the novel atmosphere.
One of my oldest online friends wrote about the fest later on, about finding “your people” and being yourself, which I found really interesting. I don’t think the zinesters I met at the fest are really “my people” – I’m straight, white, middle-class, not a part of any subculture or anything, pretty unremarkable really.
So I have been thinking about what “my people” might be, and where I fit in. If I’m honest, I haven’t been feeling like I fit in anywhere recently.
I used to define myself a lot by my job, but after I moved to my current role in 2012 I never felt 100% part of the team socially (probably because I don’t go out after work much, and I didn’t always take part in chatrooms and things like that). In the last 6 months or so, that’s changed and I’ve really felt the camaraderie at work. And… that’s ironic, because due to a merger 32 people have resigned in the last 2 months, many of them my friends.
Maybe my people are powerlifting people? Honestly, I don’t think so. I have friends at my gym, but I don’t quite feel like I fit in with them either. And when I browse powerlifting-related media on the internet (be it Instagram tags, blogs, or even the Instagram or Facebook accounts of people I know who lift) I feel alienated. There’s a lot of fatphobia, healthism and misogyny there that I don’t want a part of. And while I’ve done a fair bit of organising work at the gym in the past (e.g. looking after the website, Facebook & Instagram accounts) I’ve recently decided that I want to do less of that, as I find it quite stressful.
I guess I’m wondering here, what am I like? What do I like? I like writing code, but it’s my job, not my passion. I like powerlifting, but I don’t read about it and I don’t want to be involved in a lifting culture that’s filled with bigotry (internalised or otherwise). I like going to fat-positive events, but as a small fat I’m better as an ally on the fringes. I felt totally accepted at the zine fest, but like I was also an interloper – I have no obsessions or things I geek out about (unless you count writing code every day as “geeking out”).
This is definitely not the first time I’ve felt this way – in my 20s I tried to fit in with the poly, queer, bi crowd and it was a bit embarrassing, because I’m none of those things and they’re not attributes you can (or should!) fake. The follies of youth, eh?
I guess the short answer is to keep looking, or make my own space. Or continue not really fitting in!