Hipsters & My Mom

My mother loves to walk on the beach for hours on end. She doesn’t walk slowly with her head down looking for treasures like I do; she marches on with her head held high, her eyes meandering over people and buildings. My mother is the queen of people-watching. She tells me I walk too slow, and when I finally catch up, she tells me about how she would love to live there or have that kind of room at that kind of resort like this person or that person. My mum has an infinite ability to imagine herself in all kinds of exteriors. She constantly challenges me to not limit myself in definitions or categories. I was always obsessively anxious about fashioning the right shell to contain my snail-like self. She would challenge me to spread my slime all over the place.

My mother’s emphasis on freedom from self-imposed restrictions is perhaps why she continuously challenged my insecure, category-loving and rule-following self. I regretfully struggled with my identity and what was real and fake. If my true insides were a good cup of coffee, I spent my adolescence making shitty watered-down Americanos.

I remember as a young teenager googling “How to be a Hipster” because I desperately wanted to seem “cooler”. This whole expedition began when my friend Benazir told me in science class that I looked like a hipster. I had no idea what she was talking about. When I asked her what she meant I remember her saying, “Aren’t hipsters just people who ride bikes and stuff?” Clearly no one knew what a hipster was in 2010, but even so, I appeared that way to Benazir. When I did discover the definition of a hipster, I desired nothing more than to appear to be a part of that counterculture. I was so proud that I had been previously labelled as a hipster. The endowed definition meant that I belonged to a specific group, a clearly defined assembly of glasses-wearing and bike-riding people. And helpfully, this group came with an eHow website page to instruct future recruits! I think now that instruction manuals for “How to be this or that” are mildly cultish and sad. Back then I found the article instructive. I remember convincing myself that my minute farsightedness was problematic enough to warrant buying reading glasses from the optometrist when I was 14. I wanted to have glasses and look like a real hipster. By that time, I had absorbed these frivolous hipster qualities into my identity. Apparently, a true hipster can’t have 20/20 vision. Besides, there was no way that I would ever buy fake glasses. That would just make me a fraud! Somehow, I wound up the proud owner of a pair of $100 reading glasses at the age of 15. They now sit on my dresser collecting dust. I think I wore them twice and they gave me a headache.

To clearly see who I am is still difficult for my wavering sense of certainty. I am not even wedded to the concept of universal truth embedded in the aether let alone within myself. Can I be essentialized into a list of characteristics? Am I as easy to perform as the characters I perform onstage?

I am many things. I used to think that made me hard to swallow.

“Boys don’t like tall girls because they get intimidated.”

I can now see that makes me human.

5 thoughts on “Hipsters & My Mom

  1. “Am I as easy to perform as the characters I perform onstage?” Powerful statement. Do you think people are playing different roles throughout life? Wear masks, adorn costumes and assume new identities just as actors do in plays?

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  2. I certainly experienced the world that way when I was young. I don’t know if everyone does though. My intuition tells me that we all do to some extent. Think about gender roles or social customs – these aren’t necessarily negative things, but we do learn how to act as we grow up. I also think social media and the cultural obsession with celebrity puts pressure on us to appear a certain way so that we feel accepted by others. I don’t think this is a new thing completely- but for sure I was affected by our culture. I think as we become adults we have to work on expanding our sense of self and meeting ourselves as intricate people who are more than roles or a list of characteristics. What do you think?

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    1. Fitting in. I feel like that is the crux of the problem. Our avid desire to fit in coupled with so-called accepted societal norms just compounds the problem even further. Gender roles – pink is for girls, blue is for boys. Why? It is a much deeper issue than this, and I in no way mean to make light of it, but that is perhaps a discussion for another day. For the record though, I choose purple, guys. It’s like there are moulds that we are expected to fit into. Or better yet, keeping in tune with the analogy, there are certain roles we are expected to play. What happens when we get so used to playing these roles, acting in real life that we lose our sense of identity? How do you stop being a list of characteristics that people expect you to be? Sometimes I feel that it is during childhood when you express who you truly are. Adolescence muddies the water. Maybe adulthood will bring in better clarity? Insight into one’s self is very important, I completely agree with that. Your thoughts?

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      1. I definitely think that adulthood brings some clarity. As you said, insight and reflection kind of comes with the maturity package. But I don’t know if you ever really figure it out. This is kind of getting to an existential issue: who are we?? Anyways, that’s a whole other discussion! (Ps send me an email! I’d love to know more about you and where you are from!)

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  3. Existential crisis. Doesn’t that sound lovely? xD (p.s. I’d love to know more about you and have more intellectually stimulating discussions with you too!)

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