I was in Sociology 101 today discussing the subject of deviance. After assigning us a project to do in small groups (talk more about this later), my teacher gave his PowerPoint on deviance. I was half-listening, doodling and picking my fingers all at the same time when something caught my ears. He was talking about strain theory by Robert Merton. Strain theory, he said, is when people try to conform through institutionalized means and fail. Those same people turn to deviance. Now, he went on to explain the four outcomes of this theory (innovation, ritualism, retreatism and rebellion). I’m not interested in giving you a Sociology lesson (though I kind of already have). What I’m interested in is the last bit of strain theory. Rebellion. We’ve all seen rebels, whether they be Confederate flag-wavers or decked-out-in-head-to-toe black-wearers. Rebels, according to my Sociology teacher, replace cultural goals with new, “deviant” ones. They aren’t rebels trying to stir up trouble and create a scene, or protest and storm the Bastille. They’re revolutionaries. They’ve rejected society’s objectives for them and replaced them with their personalized plans. Out with the Old World Order and in with the New!
Of course, I had to relate it back to mental illness (hey, isn’t that what they’re always encouraging you to do in college anyway? Relate it back to something you can understand and apply your own thoughts and ideas to it? That’s why we write papers for crying out loud!) for the lovely people here. I mean, society tells us from an early age to be happy, right? Well, some people (albeit me!) are broken and can’t seem to grasp the concept of being happy. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I feel it’s setting the bar a little too high. I want to be happy, I really do, but what if I settle for contentment instead? What if I set myself up so that I can succeed, so that I know I have 100% success rate, whereas I would only have, say, a 50% chance of being truly happy? By rejecting society’s goal for me (remember: happiness) and replacing it with my own (somewhere in the land of contentment), I’m not being mentally ill. I’m not being sick, I’m not shouldering the burden of the Shadows or Borderline Personality Disorder. I’m being a rebel. And let’s be honest, how many of us have always wanted to be that? We’ve wanted the respect from our peers, the level of coolness that only comes with breaking the rules a bit and playing outside of our comfort zone. Viewing myself as a rebel doesn’t deny my mental illness or its severity, it doesn’t minimize my BPD or the work that comes with doing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. No, it doesn’t do any of that. It simply holds up a new frame, a pretty one with gilded golden edges and a bit of antique charm. This theory provides me with the perfect way to accept who I am and what I have. I know, I’ve been talking about that a lot lately and I apologize, but I don’t think I can convey how big a rock this was (and still kind of is) in my path to living a better life. I think I’ve finally found what’s going to work for me. Ah! This is so huge! I feel like I can’t wipe the grin off my face. Speaking of my face, I busted my lip pretty bad yesterday. No, I didn’t do it on purpose. It was a funny little accident. I went to get a filling replaced (actually, I went in for a cleaning but ending talking myself into getting my filling replaced) and she had to shoot me up with Novocaine twice so my mouth (and lip) was extra numb when I went home. On the drive, I had my mouth hanging open, I know, such an unattractive thing to do, so I closed it, but chomped down my lip. I had to get stitches to make it stop bleeding. It looks worse than it actually feels. But I’m so elated with my little trick to accept myself that I don’t even care! Ha!