Oliver Nassar

Divisiveness

I've long rejected certain things. Fashion. Art. Certain types of music (classical). Certain types of literature (fiction). There's always been logic behind my rejection, but I was very passive about this logic. In other words, I could articulate the sentiments that caused me to reject those experiences, but I didn't delve into what caused those sentiments.

On the surface, I rejected them because I found them to be divisive, rather than unifying.

Fashion

Looking up the word fashion gives you two definitions. The noun "a prevailing custom or style of dress, etiquette, socializing, etc." and the verb "manner: how something is done or how it happens;".

Both of these statements feel very divisive to me. One states that fashion is a "prevailing custom". I have a problem with something being defined as "prevailing" because to me (and this can be debated), it intrinsically establishes something as a norm; it's what's accepted because it's the "accepted" standard. And when something is established as a norm, it's inherently casting something else as abnormal (maybe not as harshly as that word infers, but the duality exists).

And the verb? Again, the conclusiveness in the statement "how something is done" leaves me with an impression that deviation from an established practice of how something is done (eg. how you dress, socialize, etc.) casts you on the outside of what's acceptable.

In a similar vein, classical music has a cultured stereotype attached to it. I think for a long time I rejected the concept of classical music because I resented the stereotype and classification. The problem with my rejecting classical music is that I've always really liked it.

Skating

I started skateboarding at the end of 2009. I always wanted to try it, despite never having been too active of a person (my balance wasn't something to be envious of). It started as a challenge to see if I could do it. A lot of bailing and a descent amount of blood later, and it's among the most fun and relaxing things I can do. Not much can compare to having the cans (read: headphones) on around dusk and skating around on evenly-paved concrete. But the byproduct of me having picked up this hobby is something really interesting: being cast into the stereotype of a skater.

When people find out you skate, you're sometimes cast into a weird stereotype. Not necessarily of your personality, but definitely of what to expect from you. When I left my last job, during my exit-interview our office manger made a comment about how she was surprised at how confident I was professionally. She explained that because of how I presented myself to her when we first met (I wore my hoodie, jeans and had my board with me), she didn't expect me to be as confident as I was about my work and career.

My having met her in a casual attire caused her to extrapolate what I was like in other areas of my life. My fashion created a division between her perception of me and what my capabilities were.

Outliers

For a long time, I embraced my deviation. I probably will for a while yet. My hoodies, skating, music choices, food preferences. Most everything that can be observed about me socially has some aspect of deviation embedded in it. I'm sure some of it is conscious, some subconscious, and some coincidental. But based on some interactions I've had over the past year (eg. the violinist, the melbournite, the traveller, the musician), I've slowly been evolving to the point of identifying those deviations, and which of them occur naturally, versus having a counter-culture origin.

There was nothing wrong with my previous office manager. I'm sure she's a great person outside of my experiences with her. However my distinction between her, and others that I would label outliers, refers to those who wouldn't register any possible deviation or conformity that I am part of. It's not part of their thought pattern.

Worth noting is that these aren't certain "types" of people; an outlier for me may not be an outlier for you, and vice-versa. But it's these outliers that have allowed me to bridge the gap between my conscious rejection of divisive themes (art, fashion, literature) and what I truly enjoy. A challenge to myself is to be more proactive, and open, in seeking out these outliers.

Divisiveness

There are hundreds of examples of how divisiveness exists in many different, unexpected places, but the point of this post isn't to highlight divisiveness in all it's forms; that'd be a pretty pessimistic and non-productive post. The point is to conclude that it's not useful to adhere to divisiveness and divisions.

I don't want to conclude that divisiveness is purely subjective because that would be dismissive of how powerful subjective experiences are. Whether they are or not is pretty irrelevant I think. For me, it's not worth the distinction anymore.

I always resented divisiveness, but having those walls up hold me back from new experiences. If they're subjective walls, then I can take them down. If they're not, I'll find out. But either way, they're not helpful. Fashion, art and music exist independent of peoples casting of their purposes and limitations. My choosing to be more liberal in how I experience them is completely under my control.

While that may be clear enough to most people, I hope writing it out will help infuse it into my consciousness.