There was a time when choosing alienation was a scared and holy thing.
The path of the hermit and those in cloistered communities involved deliberately cutting themselves off from the rumble and rabble of the outside world to live a life of contemplation, dedicated to a closer relationship with the divine than with the profane.
Today, alienation still involves an element of choice.
We have to decide how much we are going to play along with the social pressures for normativity and how much we are going to stand separate, proud and alienated.
I am very aware that my loneliness comes from being a long lost tranny, and that choice comes from refusing to compartmentalized or flatten myself to fit into social demands and expectations.
Because it is a choice, I know that I can’t really complain about the negative effects that alienation costs me. I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.
Yet the cost of alienation is often made higher by those who see those who choose not to play along as needing to be taught a lesson, rather than seeing them as strong individuals who are just trying to find a way to be true to their own hearts.
In many ways, I had no other choice than alienation. The cost of fitting in was just more painful, forced and contortionist than I could bear.
We don’t choose alienation to say “fuck you” to anyone, even if those are the words that come out of our hurting mouths.
We choose alienation to try and save ourselves, to try and be true to that unique essence in our heart that is being tortured by the pressure to fit in.
My personal alienation started as a survival strategy, but it became a sacred strategy. Being closer to my creator than to my peers gave me great comfort and insight.
Like any strategy, though, there is always a price to be paid. Once you get good at surviving with alienation, it becomes very easy to choose more alienation over the hard work of dealing with the chatter and habits of other humans. You can become more and more isolated because you understand that you don’t really need to fit in, no matter how good being seen, understood and valued might be.
Wild and tame is the ultimate duality, and we are each called to both of them. We need to stand for ourselves, individual and unique while also being part of the community, fitting in and working together.
It is often hard, though, for people who have consumed themselves to fit into the crowd to have respect and appreciation for those who have chosen to stand apart some, asking the questions that go to the heart of group think.
Our alienation may start as defence, but it often becomes enforced by those who see us as outside the bounds and then choose to marginalize us. The loop creates a barrier even as we seek for some kind of home where we are welcomed, finding people like us, instead finding those who fear and rankle at what they see as our alien nature.
Which comes first in alienation: the need for defence, the call for the holy, or the bristling demands for becoming ordinary to fit in?
In my experience, they all came together, the bad, the good and the defensive.
Too much alienation, though, especially from people who claim to be on our side, well, it leaves you out in the cold.