This is a familiar story for me. I went to college in the 1970s but did not live in jeans, attend even one frat party or smoke pot. I was a restaurant reviewer but couldn't embrace all the foodie virtues of source snobbery and celebrity chef worship; if someone made a great hot dog from questionable ingredients, I still said it was great. I made a lousy employee but thrived as a freelance contractor, following my own uncorporate rules: I don't do meetings; performance reviews are bullshit; mission statements are the ultimate in bullshit.
It's a wonder I'm still surviving. But yes, there I am on the fringe. Being an outsider isn't second nature for me; it's my primary nature, born of the days when I was the last kid picked for the team, the one girl who wore a dress instead of a trendy pantsuit for the field trip, the woman who wore flats instead of heels because they were more comfortable.
There were always, however, advantages to being on the fringe. I became the yearbook editor, able to chronicle our class because I was just a step apart from it. My restaurant reviews spoke to the average folks who just wanted a nice night out, and they thanked me for it. My period of living on North Caicos was easier because I expected to be an outsider, not embraced.
It's possible that a lifetime of being an outsider, on the fringe, is what finally led me to being a writer of fiction. Or not.
I have a friend who willingly signs up for all sorts of kamikaze exercise classes of the kick-boxing, boot-camp ilk. She loves it all, embracing whatever masochistic culture she gets thrown into. My reaction would be more on the lines of the following:
No pain, no gain? No, pain means, "Stop that! Right now."
Embracing it, she's losing some weight and maintaining good health (when it's not too painful). Dissing it, I'm going my own way while learning about the experience through her.
We both win!