Several weeks back, I wrote about the idea of Liminal Spaces – specifically, the idea that I was in a period of transition in my life. In this, I talked about being clearly at the end of one phase of my life – entering my thirties, putting a deposit on a house, completing a year of full-time work in a job that’s aligned with my skillset and interests. It marked the end of my twenties, a period of uncertainty and tumult at times. However, what came next was uncertain. Some weeks later, it still largely is.
In the middle portion of that piece, I wrote about being comfortable, but also being somewhat lonely at being a person who operates between scenes, social groups and ideas. Where my thinking has grown since then is being more accepting of the fact that I am someone who is always going to search out novel and interesting intellectual experiences, and that there’s nothing wrong with that. In itself, accepting this fact is a sign of increased confidence and certainty within myself.
Upon further reflection, a few lines in particular stick out that I’d like to explore further, both within this piece and in future writing. One of these is the below:
“It would seem that on some level, I enjoy being in, or at least operating within, the liminal space between two different broader groups, whether professional, personal, cultural or otherwise.”
This is interesting, as we live in a society that is become ever more specialized and fragmented. Subcultures are becoming ever more niche, and more and more, large swathes of society have no meaningful connection or commonality with one another. To actively try and go against this, or to at least seek out the connections, the commonalities, the plurality puts me in an interesting position. This ‘interesting position’ is something I make reference to earlier in this paragraph:
‘While it (systems analysis) is an enjoyable, challenging and rewarding job, it is also not always easy to define or obvious to show its importance and value’
While I enjoy working within these spaces and identifying ways seemingly disparate groups can productively work together, it’s not always intuitive for others to see the value. Thus, it can be difficult to get others on board with what I’m doing or thinking. Getting others on board with novel or unusual approaches to solving problems is a challenge at the best of times, especially if it involves getting groups of people to work together that are not inclined or incentivised to do so. Group norms and dynamics are powerful, and a perceived outsider challenging these, even in a benign or positive way can cause issues.
Of course, it’s one thing to take this approach in my professional life. What about in other areas of my life? As I mentioned in my previous post, growing up having being diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome at eight years old informed a lot of this approach. I wrote toward the end of my previous article,
“I had to figure out a way to, if not fit in, at least function in groups I did not always belong to. I became very good at finding a niche between social groups, even if I did not necessarily closely belong to one particular group. This has brought about a proactive nature and independence, but also at times a sense of isolation”
Essentially, it was a means of adapting to my situation, even if at times I overfit this pattern of behaviour to my own detriment, something I’m working to undo now. At some level, I will always be, in some sense, operating in a ‘liminal space’, whether it be by choice such as in my chosen career, imposed by circumstance, such as going through life stages, or as a consequence of being outside ‘normal’ social bounds. The question I am grappling with now is, how can I avoid the pattern of overfitting, and become comfortable being fully within a group, with people, within interdependent relationships?
This piece and my original Liminal Spaces piece barely scratches the surface of my thoughts on the idea of liminal spaces in society, both physical and virtual, as well as liminality, the feeling of uncertainty or being out of place due to physical environment or circumstances. Going forward, I plan on exploring this idea extensively not only on this blog, but also through a future edition of an Interintellect Salon which I host, on my Twitter and even perhaps through fictional writing. Liminality and liminal spaces, the more I dig into it, the more I find – ironically, finding meaning in a somewhat vague and uncertain concept. Something I appear to enjoy doing on some level, evidently.