As I roll to a stop at a red light after a particularly long day, the bumper sticker assaults me, throwing itself into my mind with the finesse of your average line backer.
“Fit in or Fuck Off”, it shrieks, as if fitting in is some sort of gold-medal status we should all hope to achieve. All I can do is wonder what kind of ass has this emblazoned on their vehicle, and if they realize how horrible the world would be if everyone who didn’t fit in fucked off.
I suspect the bumper sticker refers to those who come to Canada from other countries. It’s become a bit of an ugly refrain, the litany about how “those people” should just “fit in” and leave their culture behind.
How quickly we forget.
Other than the indigenous peoples, who have been here for considerably longer than the rest of us, every single one of us originated somewhere else, and we did so since the 1600’s – or in terms of time and history, not all that long ago. And as we came we brought with us our customs, our cultures, our beliefs, our languages – and we formed a nation.
These pieces of our past continue to be seen today. My own family history is strongly German, and I can assure you that even after decades we continue to uphold certain traditions that go right back to those roots. We didn’t fit in when we arrived, and we didn’t fuck off; we contributed to the developing culture of our country by adding our own spice to the blend. And yet here we are, generations later, trying to tell others how to fit in, and how to fuck off if they don’t.
But the whole “fit in or fuck off” refrain has far wider ramifications than some ugly xenophobia as exhibited by the driver of that truck (one driven badly, I might add, pulling a u-turn in the middle of a street, apparently oblivious to anyone but themselves).
The best part of humanity is the variety. Can you imagine the absolute tedious nature of everyone “fitting in”, being the same and expressing the same thoughts and having the same goals? It sounds like some horrible science fiction movie plot, and in fact serves as the basis for some novels that use this scenario as the background for a tale of humanity gone wrong.
Thank god my father didn’t feel the need to fit in to the sentiments of the small farming community where my sisters were born and sent them all to university, opening the world to them as young women when his fellow farmers thought this was absurd. Thank god he showed me the joy of never conforming, allowing me to tolerate a young adulthood peppered with bullying but coming out of it Teflon-tough, impervious to peer pressure and a lifetime of just not really caring what others think of me.
Thank god I’ve had a lifetime of knowing and loving iconoclastic individuals, each and every one eccentric and different and truly unique and, for me, life altering.
Fitting in – whether it’s your culture, your race, your sexual orientation, your anything, has to be the most over-rated ideal on the planet. History remembers those who dared to be different and make a difference; history celebrates those who rose above and never feared to take an unusual path; and it rarely celebrates those who strived only to be part of the “fitting in” pack.
What a depressing world it must be to think others should conform to our definitions of fitting in. What a limiting view.
And what a hideous attempt at bullying others into conformity and uniformity.
Please don’t fit in. And don’t you dare fuck off. The world needs your brand of unique and different and unusual, whatever it is. Be proud you don’t fit in. And be strong enough to tell those that think you should to just plain fuck off.