why pretentious isn’t the same as ‘peculiar’

Sometimes I’m not deep (like I presume myself to be)
and I’m just happy. 

(Or maybe I’m looking for the word joy, since it doesn’t have to do with circumstances, but rather a byproduct of live with Jesus, not so much circumstances. I do believe I have that, though there have been more than a few days where I don’t feel it. Today was a day where I also felt circumstantially happy simultaneously, so that was a tremendous bonus.)

Happy to eat a salad with candied pecans, 
happy to wear pants,
happy for new library books,
happy to wake up in the same home as my family,
happy for Snugz dates with my little sister,
happy for gaining 4 pounds,
happy for fabric softener that smells amazing,
happy for painted toenails,
happy for McDonalds fries,
and happy to pay for my own Starbucks, which I then instagram in a snarky, condescending way just to prove how much clever-er I am than other people I barely know who are so unoriginal as to enjoy the infamous shot of their delicious beverages. Who’s attracted to me right now? 

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I just said to my Dad last night that I feel as though I haven’t been smacked in the face with some truth about myself in a while and I felt like I was due. And lo, another smack down.

This is a seemingly small thing, but it goes even deeper with me. 
Last week after I posted my blog, my dear friend/big sister Meg hit the nail on the head and called me out on my irrational fear of being a cliche.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been hell-bent on being different than everyone else. It’s been a fixation as soon as I realized that Disney Channel stereotypes were a real thing. I loved the fact that in high school I liked reading intellectual literature and volunteering at the library and church and being the ‘wholesome’ one in a world of teens all trying to prove just how BA they could be. I cut my hair short specifically because I knew that most teenage guys liked longer hair. I didn’t sneak out and party and I certainly didn’t date anyone (who’s impressed yet?). It made me feel different, special, like I was in some VIP lounge by myself with my hands up shouting, “Party for One! I’m so separate and unusual! Can everyone see how unique I am with my blatant rejection of clearly outlined social norms for people my age??”
 
It got worse in certain ways as I got older. When I turned 19 (because I refused to do it at 18 like everyone else I knew) I got a nose ring that I loved dearly. Due of the rules of my conservative university, I had no choice but to remove it after six months. When it was suddenly given the thumbs-up, stamp of approval the following fall semester, I turned up my nose at the idea when I saw tons of other girls getting their own adorable nose studs.

And that’s just one extremely petty example. 

I think somewhere along the line, I took the scripture I loved so much about being a “peculiar people” and took it to mean that come hell or high-water, I would stand out from people by being the exact opposite of whatever was popular at the time.

This isn’t a post about “standing up to the man” and “marching to the beat of your own drum” as much as it’s about recognizing that doing things just because they’re not trendy is just as stupid as doing things just because they are trendy.

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And so, I relinquish this subtle area of pride in my life; I give myself permission to be whatever I am, regardless of cliches, stereotypes, expectations from others or even myself–and I free others to do so as well. Not like keeping them (whoever the heck this undefinable them is) categorized in my pretentious little head meant anything about their actual freedom to express themselves in whatever way they choose. It’s more that I’m stepping back from even this, my preconceived notions of surface issues that don’t matter in the grand scheme of eternity. Forgive my humanity-judging human self, world. Let us love and enjoy and live and stick THAT to the man, together. The only thing that really matters is the difference of our unconditional love for one another and our devotion to Jesus. That’s plenty peculiar.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to finish listening to ‘Bon Iver’ before I go to bed.

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One thought on “why pretentious isn’t the same as ‘peculiar’

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this, Stephanie! This was exactly what I needed to hear this week, and it really speaks to some stuff I’ve been struggling with in my own life. Lately I’ve been discovering it is much too easy to get caught up in being “different” and “wholesome,” and that when you do you start treating the rest of the world like simpering idiots without even realizing it… talk about prideful and pretentious! That’s kind of where I’ve been for most of this semester, and I’ve really been convicted on this score recently. Thank you for reaffirming just how ridiculous such attitudes can be!

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