Chicago Witch: Witchy Living in the Windy City

A perspective of a modern, urban Witch who strives to balance faith with family and career.

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You can't please everyone

Since my last 9-part article here on my experiences at Pagan Spirit Gathering, I've had a big change in my life. I can't talk about most of that - sorry. What I can say is I've gained some deeper insight on the Samhain resolution I made last year about being less judgmental. I will remind folks, I say less judgy, because we're all human, but just trying to honestly walk in someone's shoes is hard for so many people to do. And I say that with the inclusion of the Pagan community.

There are notable Pagans who have spent time with me in person, people of whom I've at least made an attempt to let them get to know me and of course vice versa, at the very least on some base level of agreement, who harshly judge me. These are people who won't give me the time of day. People who, on one hand shout to the hilltops we need to be accepting of everyone, who won't even acknowledge my presence unless they are forced to. And even then, they do so grudgingly and while being back-handedly polite. Does it hurt my feelings? At this point in my life, not really. In fact, I developed a mechanism to cope with not being able to be everyone's friend/acquaintance back when I was a kid. Allow me to explain:


Until I was in high school, I did not have a single friend. None. Sounds crazy, right? That may be especially true to those who know how outgoing and hard-working I am. I had won the Trifecta of Loserdom: I was the new kid nearly every year, sometimes twice in the same year. I was the painfully obvious poor kid, wearing clashy outfits from thrift stores with dirty, unstylish hair and a lack of pretty things. And, I was the weird kid. Today, I'm certain I would be labeled ADHD, but back then, sudden outbursts, drawing on everything and walking around in the classroom for no good reason was just considered weird - especially for a girl who was book-smart. But, like teen rom-coms, I was also aesthetically pleasing underneath, I had developed young and was tall, and I just needed a make-over to become popular. (And yes, I did that by getting into modeling.)

When I wasn't outright ignored, in spite of my hard grabs for attention, I too was bullied unmercifully like many readers. No matter what I did, I didn't do it right. I have a long list of mean kids, girls and boys alike, who I sometimes wish I could run into at the grocery store as my awesome self, in the middle of yet another important phone call while scouring the aisles, just to prove to them I'm better now. I belong. Maybe that resonates with you, too. Brian S. Tracy K. Erica L. Brian W. Shawn O. Charleen D. Heidi H. Gina M. Keisha B. Tamara J. And so on. (It's a pretty long list.) I haven't forgotten you. I haven't forgotten your names. I haven't forgotten your faces. And I haven't forgotten how you made my life hell. That will never go away, but I just want you to know, if you even care, I'm better now. And, I would like to think in the 25-30 years since, I can at least sit at the table behind the cool kids' table. Have I earned that much yet?

The same goes to the "cool kids" of the Pagan community who, while they haven't physically assaulted me, have treated me in some of the same ways. Like children. And as someone who's been a part of the community for nearly 20 years, I'm saddened there are still the same types of behaviors going on. I'm different - I know that - but is that any reason to blatantly ignore people who talk to you, suggest things to you, comment how they see things a little differently? And if you do give me the time of day, it's only to criticize? To make general assumptions? To judge?

I will go ahead and list all the things that make me different from many Pagans I know, and then I'm going to write a list of things where we probably have some major similarities. I then invite you to go ahead and write whatever you think in the comments if the mood strikes you.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Pagan-Con-Pro.jpgNow I know full well, the very same people "who be hatin'" will come across this article as me being a whiny bitch, or narcissistic, or whatever. No, no and no. I'm writing this because I know I'm not the only one who feels they are experiencing the same attitudes, and yes, I'm calling out the attitudes for an adjustment. People are entitled to their own opinions, but being judgy when no one is being harmed is something I have no problem calling out. You don't have to like me, even when I invoke Pinkie Pie, but Jeeze Louise, it's pretty hypocritical to hate on someone who's different than you when you demand acceptance for yourself.

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Lori Dake is a life-long native several generations back , is a mom to an adult son and married for over fifteen years. She is a leasing agent primarily serving the North Side and has also worked as a paralegal for several years. Sometimes, she’s a hardcore fashionista, and sometimes a concert shirt and jeans are more her style. Hobbies include painting while listening to 80’s metal, writing, participating in various forms of philanthropy and creating fabulous meals on a budget.

Comments

  • guy fawkes
    guy fawkes Wednesday, 03 September 2014

    you're definitely not alone in this experience. relational aggression is a serious problem in pagandom. one major contributing factor seems to be the vouch system, because it promotes gossip mongering, and rarely with any burden of proof beyond hear-say. genuine character and integrity too often takes a backseat to popularity and the habit of slander. that's especially problematic when initiatory status and taboos are involved, due to the imbalanced social power dynamics they can create.

    I'm glad you're courageous enough to put your neck on the block in an attempt to call out this behavior. may the gods protect you. it's been the ruin of many excellent people and needs to end sooner than later. being welcomed and remaining accepted as a valued community member shouldn't be a popularity contest, or something requiring an athame proof back plate.

  • Lori Dake
    Lori Dake Wednesday, 03 September 2014

    Thank you for your thoughts. It's just something that's been grating on me for quite a while, and at this point in my life, I would like to think people who are my own age and older would be beyond such pettiness.

  • Shauna Aura Knight
    Shauna Aura Knight Wednesday, 03 September 2014

    One thing that struck me in your post is that I had a similar childhood--rejected by my peers, emotionally (sometimes physically) abused by the other kids, all that. So now when I'm in public, I tend to be very shy and hesitant. I don't assume people want to talk to me. Paradoxically, I've had people tell me they thought I was standoffish. But, that's the curse of the introvert; being shy and hanging out on the fringes and people judge us. Or rather, misjudge our motivations.

    One thing that I think is important is that not all Pagans are going to get along. We don't all have to be friends, and I don't actually believe we should include "everyone" into our groups. Specifically, if someone's engaging in harmful/disruptive behavior, they're not going to be welcome to my events.

    There are sometimes just personality mismatches. There are people that I like a lot, and they might find me annoying. Or, vice versa. That happens, and I think it's sometimes just a chemistry thing. Sometimes people get on each other's nerves and it's usually just best to keep distance.

    I hope that most of us can disagree with each other with some grace. There are exceptions to that; I'm not going to gracefully disagree with a racist or bigot, for example. But in most other situations there's a way to do it where I can disagree with someone else's approach or opinion, but still respect them. Heck, you and I have disagreed on a few things on some email lists or whatnot but I recall we always did so with respect. :)

    Outright bullying, on the other hand, is something else entirely, and I'm sorry you've gone through that.

  • Lori Dake
    Lori Dake Wednesday, 03 September 2014

    Shauna,

    I'm not talking about people who are just shy, or introverted, or even perhaps on the spectrum. What I'm specifically talking about are people, in person, who will give me that "Who farted?" stinkeye look. Or, they'll give me the fake smile sitting next to me out of obligation and give a backhanded compliment with a shit-eating grin ("That looks amazingly nice on you with /your/ figure") and then disregard me. Or, if I add to the general conversation, I get the Elvis snarl with a "Well that's nice/Good for you" and then cut me off - completely disregarding me and then walk off with their friends, whispering about me. The worst of course are the self-righteous ones who get outright indignant when I share something about myself they don't like and proceed to tell me all the reasons I'm /wrong/ about something. "Okay. I got the memo. Are you finished yet?" is how I want to respond, but out of politeness, I nod and smile.

    THAT is what I'm talking about. And THAT is unacceptable. And, THAT is why I rarely attend events where I feel I have no exit or at least a buffer.

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