By Dana Gornall
I was talking with a friend recently and he described someone as being a crunchy yoga girl.
The term rolled around in my brain a little and images of lean, tan women dressed in spaghetti strap tanks with OM signs or a lotus tattooed on the back of their necks and thin, gold rings on each perfectly manicured toe came to mind. Looking down at myself in a pair of 10 year old bleach-stained yoga pants that have been worn so much they now constantly slide down my hips, and a pair of mismatched socks (one sporting a thread-bare section threatening to soon open up into a hole) I sipped my coffee and ate my name brand, grocery chain store bought toast, I wondered if I was a crunchy yoga girl.
I’m not a crunchy yoga girl, but I play one on TV, I thought, and giggled aloud at my own corny joke.
I can be somewhat of a misfit; it’s true. Quiet in groups, a little shy with a decent heaping spoonful of social anxiety, I tend to avoid herds of people whether it be a post-yoga class dinner or an after-work social gathering. I seem to say things in the wrong spaces between words, missing the delicate cadence of typical conversation. I remember things to say after it is too late to say them and I forget faces with names, or names with faces and end up with my own face flushed with embarrassment after most interaction, which is why I’d rather keep my head bent down and focus on finding a way out most of the time.
Yet, I don’t fit in with the social misfit crowd either. I’m a little rebellious, but only in small doses. I was neither popular nor unpopular in school—a cheerleader that didn’t party. I like most music, but lean neither this way or that. I have strong opinions on many things but hate to argue and would rather just avoid conflict.
Sitting back and thinking about this and all of the different groups we like to place ourselves in I thought about labels. Is it true that birds of a feather flock together? And what if you no longer like these feathers? Can you either lightly shed them, each one dropping to the ground as you swoop and dive to find another flock, or pull each one from your skin until left bare and slightly bleeding, ready to sprout a rainbow of colors?
We humans prefer to put people and things in to neatly marked groups so that we can understand them. It’s our nature—or social construct—and to assume we could somehow stop doing this is unlikely and probably impossible. We even place these labels on ourselves, sometimes with pride and other times with shame.
I’m vegan. I’m Buddhist. I’m Christian. I’m a punk rocker. I’m an introvert. I’m a yogi. I’m a bookworm. I’m an extrovert. I’m a success. I’m a failure. I’m a college graduate. I’m a drop-out. I’m fit. I’m fat. I’m a junk food lover. I’m a health nut. I’m a wild woman. I’m a runner. I’m liberal. I’m conservative.
What comes to your mind with each of those words? Most likely depending on where you identify yourself makes a difference on how you react to a certain type of person or group. We search for those that will accept us; we look for our “tribe.” We strive to find the place where we belong so that we can move forward, make choices, make decisions and that our choices and decisions make better sense; so that we can stand behind those that are like us so that they can stand behind us; so that we have a purpose to who we are.
But maybe we get so involved with all of this categorizing and standing behind and on top of or beneath, so that we can form a group or a herd, that we lose the bigger picture. So caught up in either finding the flock to which we belong, or in ripping out our own feathers to create someone new that we completely miss the one common vein we all share.
Maybe I am a crunchy yoga girl, after all. I really wish that society would, at some point, give peace a chance and I actually do have a tattoo on my back (but it is not an OM sign nor a lotus). Or maybe I am just playing one on TV.
“She didn’t belong anywhere and she never really belonged to anyone. And everyone else belonged somewhere and to someone. People thought she was too wonderful. But she only wanted to belong to someone. People always thought she was too wonderful to belong to them or that something too wonderful would hurt too much to lose. And that’s why she liked him– because he just thought she was crazy.” ~ C. Joybell C.
Editor: Peter Schaller