Island of Misfit Toys | Teen Ink

Island of Misfit Toys

September 17, 2012
By ReneetheGreat PLATINUM, Castle Rock, Colorado
ReneetheGreat PLATINUM, Castle Rock, Colorado
28 articles 3 photos 85 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Strength does not come from physical capacity, but from an indomitable will."

I have become increasingly convinced that I was born in the wrong generation. The proof? Easy. It starts with my undying, unconditional love for the newspaper. Of course I am passionate about the one thing that, in recent years, has fallen further and further into the inescapable hole that is technology and thus, advancement. I have always felt as though I am on the island of misfit toys, however the one place that made me feel as though I were a part of something is the newsroom. Naturally, the physical presence of a newsroom is a dwindling and disappearing entity on this world. It is not that the existence of news is in jeopardy- oh no news is still as much a hot commodity as it ever was. It is its presentation that is diving headfirst into the new and exciting world of technology, which means new forms of advertising- such as craigslist and Monster that are stripping millions of dollars away from newspapers, who depend on advertisers to fund the production of their newspapers. This sparks a domino effect which has, in the past decade, shifted the journalism field as a whole into the world of the renowned Internet. Many journalists are excited and fascinated with this shift, and gladly embark on the journey news is taking. I am not, and may never be, one of those journalists. The Internet, the electronic world as a whole, does nothing in the way of exciting me. Although a product of the 21st century, I am old fashioned in believing that newspapers, books, and any source of journalism, are meant to be printed. That's what makes it real. When people hold the Sunday paper in their hands, or a classic novel, they hold the beautiful gift of knowledge and thus, power. Electronic media just doesn't hold the magic that has so captivated me of newspapers. It makes me feel so old to say this, especially because the majority, if not all, of my college classmates have immersed themselves completely in the budding electronic world. I wish I didn't have to feel lame. Instead, I wish I was about to enter the enthralling world of journalism at its height- newspapers circa 1970. There is where I belong- its a place and time in which my ideas about print and news and journalism echo thousands of voices across the nation. But no, here I am stuck in the 21st century with the mindset of an old-fashioned no one whose ideas have nothing new to contribute.

Besides my misplaced ideas about this generation's movement towards electronic media, I have a very odd, and uncommon, mindset about drugs, alcohol, and rebellion. I don't do any of it. Unfortunately, 95% of my college counterparts do, thus crowning me yet again, a misfit. I grew up in an idyllic small town where the realities of the city, and thus society in general, were absent. I was sheltered not only in proximity, but also religion, about the ways of the world and therefore my experience with it is slim to none. However, my brother and neighbor grew up in the same small town environment as me, but have had no trouble blending in and becoming a part of the mainstream culture here in the big world. I don't think it's just my upbringing that has got me feeling so old-fashioned. Instead, it is my lack of interest in anything having to do with mainstream culture and its values, or lack thereof, that has convinced me I was not meant to be of this generation. I know, there are kids like me who don't like to party, or have religious convictions that draw them away from the norm. I don't fit with that either- I don't have anything that is keeping me from becoming a part of the world of young people in the 21st century, not even a religious conviction. Except myself.

I hear stories about life in the 1920's or 30's- a place where families stayed together and kids went to school for an education and there wasn't a whole lot of uprisings and rebellions. A place where dinner was at 5, there were 2 channels on TV, and every child spent time in the neighborhood without having to worry about predators, cars or curfews. I like old-fashioned. I like simple, and I like plain. Of course, nothing is perfect in any generation and there will be parts of every person that doesn't fit the cookie cutter of any given mainstream culture. Although I crave the culture of earlier generations, I also enjoy my iPhone, the occasional reality TV show, and the ease of communication through email, text, and social media. I am, to a degree, immersed in the culture of now, and it wouldn't be fair to say that I completely reject it in any capacity. But would I give it all up to be in another era? Absolutely. That's the key- I do what I can to join the culture because, as any typical young adult, I would rather be a part of something that be completely on my own. I don't, however, particularly enjoy conforming my ideals and interests in order to participate in a society that for me is inferior to that of many past generations. Besides, even my semi-emergence in the mainstream culture is not enough to win me a whole lot of social options. My rejection of drugs, alcohol, and parties makes me a very unpopular and unwanted commodity here in college. It's not a world that I am truly welcomed into, and although I am glad I am not joining in with my peers in these things, it certainly isn't easy to be one of a very select few who stay in on Friday nights. I am surrounded by seas of people, but I live in a world that for me and my tastes, is lonely.

There's another part of what makes me who I am that doesn't belong in this generation. When I think of marriage and family, I wish I was living in a place where we could get married young and have lots of children and it wouldn't be considered a failure. I wish I was growing up in a culture that valued marriage the way it was meant to be, and didn't rely on divorce as an easy way out. Although I appreciate tremendously the rights and opportunities available to women nowadays, I also appreciate the time in which women could focus on being excellent mothers and housekeepers and that was enough to keep a family running. I can't say for sure that I would be happy as a housewife in the 1920's, but I also can't say I will be happy as a housewife and career women in the 21st century. What I want in my life doesn't exactly line up with the values and expectations in mainstream culture today, but it isn't special or unique or even cutting edge enough to be anything countercultural. It's just..outdated.

If I were living in a different generation, I am confident that who I am would be enough to be a better part of the culture. I think I would be happier in another time, another place. Honestly, I am up to the challenge of being different in today's world, and making a small, although possibly insignificant, statement about the alternate lifestyle of youth in college. However, I would be lying if I didn't say that being different and not wanting what nearly every other college student wants is difficult. It won't be impossible, but it certainly is not proving to be easy. I hope someday soon, I find a significant other who will share my values and interests. I have a feeling, though, that college may not be my time. It's not the place where who I am is good enough, and thus it will prove to be the challenge of my life to stay true to who I am.

There are some problems to my theory, of course. For one, I want to be a journalist in a time where women were expected to be more of a housewife than a career enthusiast. I understand that my rights and views may not have been as respected then as they would be now. However, if I were from an earlier generation that centered around the newspapers instead of electronic media, I would already be a happier person. It wouldn't even matter what generation I was in, as long as the newspaper industry was growing instead of falling. Even if I couldn't be as much of a part of the journalism industry, it would still be better for me to grow up witnessing its height, not its fall. Another issue with my theory is that I don't have an answer for what generation I should be a part of. I think there are pros and cons to every generation, and the key is to find one that has more pros than cons. There are a lot of puzzle pieces that I am trying to fit together, but the 21st century leaves out quite a few. I don't know which one would best put my puzzle together, but I do know that one of them could do it better than this one. I feel like one of those old people who is so set in their ways that they can't accept the change and advancement this century has and will continue to bring. But I'm 19 years old. I should be a part of this new and exciting change, instead of in many ways resisting it. Doesn't exactly increase my cool factor. So even though this is mostly just a ramble from an out-of-place college student from their island of misfit toys, I think it has some genuine truth. Unfortunately for me, I'm stuck here in the 21st century, and the most I can do is make the best of it.

If I were born in another generation, life would be a whole lot simpler, and it would align much better with who I am and what I want and don't want to do. At the same time, it wouldn't challenge me in the ways that this life and culture will, and thus I have to be grateful for the life I have been given. My life is an occasion, it's my job to rise to it, no matter what generation I am a part of. It will be a good one, especially because joining me on the island of misfit toys are a few really great friends, treasures in my mind. Without them, I wouldn't be able to weather the crazy storms the 21st century is throwing my way.

The author's comments:
"When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

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