I recently listened to a song I haven’t heard in several years – a song that belonged in the personal soundtrack for my 19th year of life: “Troublemaker” by Weezer.
I have found that I am repeatedly drawn to songs, movies, and literature with a topic of rebellion. Although, I have to laugh to myself about it. “Rebellion” conjures gritty images of teens with attitude problems making impulsive decisions – something that couldn’t be further from my own experiences, teenaged or otherwise. I read John Green’s “Looking for Alaska” when I was 16 and finished it feeling bewildered. Surely people don’t live like that. I found the book utterly unrelatable.
Coming from a strict household, I was churched, home schooled, and home by 9pm until I graduated high school. At 18, I swapped 9pm for a new midnight curfew that I had until I was married. What did I do with my extra three hours? Not much. I tried my first alcoholic beverage – two sips of someone else’s Jack and coke – when I was 20 ½ years old. I’ve never done any illegal drugs (not even weed, despite more than ample opportunity). I have never even gotten a speeding ticket.
I didn’t choose to read “Looking for Alaska” because it sounded like a story I would relate to or enjoy. I read it because I was on the Teen Advisory Board for my local library, and part of my responsibilities was to take part in the book club. The book club was reading “Looking for Alaska” and having a discussion, so I read and discussed. Rebel, indeed.
Nevertheless, the theme of rebellion is one that I identify with. Though it seems the most common depiction of rebellion is giving your parents the middle finger (figuratively or otherwise), the notion of rebellion is far more than that. Rebellion is about thinking for yourself. Rebellion is about realizing your own power and making your own decisions. Rebellion is about the rejection of what is, what is commonly accepted, and asking WHY?
Rebels obviously don’t fit in. You can’t question the status quo and carry on the facade at the same time. Rebels don’t fit the mold and don’t want to. Rebels move against the grain. They are risk-takers, action-minded and passionate. While most people understand The System, the Powers That Be, and learn to navigate them, rebels push back.
I may have been writing my first novel instead of sneaking out when I was 17, but I am still a rebel. I have always seen a greater challenge in shaping my life. As my husband is fond of saying:
“Reality is negotiable.”
What we see, what we’ve known, what we’ve experienced so far, isn’t all there is. Just because I was born in Texas doesn’t mean I have to stay and live there. Just because most writers try to go through a traditional publishing house doesn’t mean I have to. Just because most couples have a baby within three years of their wedding doesn’t mean we have to. Just because most people would agree on a standard way of doing things doesn’t mean we all have to go along with it.
I have a brain. You have a brain. We both make our own choices. A deviation from the path of least resistance is not a judgement on that path. We all see value in what we have chosen. If the world is in the business of mining gold, and most everyone is in the mines together with secure carts and safety headlamps, looking together for flecks and nuggets of gold, then I am on a solo treasure hunt, chasing rumor and legend with a fill-in-the-blank map. We’re both looking for gold, we’re just using different methods.
I have the rebel’s heart. I can’t help it. I’m a writer and nomad, living out of a backpack and practicing my art. I picked this life. On purpose. Yes, I know my decisions are unorthodox, but that’s because I’m not building the same future that everyone else is. If I don’t want to end up living like everyone else, why would I be making the same choices as everyone else? 1 + 1 = 2, but I don’t want 2. I want purple. To make purple I need blue and red, not 1 and 1.
Maybe the next time someone asks me whether I plan to have a water birth for my nonexistent pregnancy (real question!), or reminds me that we have to make money (omg I thought people still bartered animal pelts?!?!?!!?!?!!), I’ll just play this song and moonwalk away. After all, they say everybody loves a rebel. #CallMeTheNewJamesDean