It’s interesting that as we grow older, the idea of fitting in with those around us becomes less worrisome. In fact, the more individuality we express in ourselves, the happier we tend to be — simply because we have reached a level of hard-earned maturity and wisdom where we no longer need the approval of others to feel good about ourselves.
I saw it in my daughter when she struggled through the awkward stage of teenagedom where rebellion gives way to a clique mentality and any individual who outshines the gaggle will be ostracized. Take a look at a pack of kids standing outside a high school and you’ll scratch your head over what committee designed their platypus-inspired copycat uniforms.
But now that she’s maturing into a young woman, my daughter is returning to that individual she always was. Her interests and fashion sense choices are being made by what she thinks is cool, rather than what the group consensus might be.
I’ve found this wonderful attitude everywhere in Victoria — a celebration of individuality. And because of this, these individuals are now finding groups of peers who not only understand their passion, but want to celebrate with them.
In our cover story this week, Mary Ellen Green talks with a great group of artisans who are so passionate about knitting, they have practically purled and gartered their own language. Yarn Hussy, anyone? Best of all, they’ve returned to the basic foundation of all tribal cultures from which we evolved in that skills earned over a lifetime are cherished rather than ignored. (This same movement is also being found in our newfound passion for old-fashioned, natural food. ‘Sorry, grandpa, you can’t retire now, I want to know just how you make those strawberries taste so sweet.’)
You’ll find 19-year-olds knitting, laughing and learning from 90-year-old masters, and you’ll find those same 90-year-olds picking up on the energy and twist-on-an-old-classic creativity of their younger pupils. Only, in this arena of passionate individuals, it’s no longer teacher and student, but simply friends.
And there is nothing cooler than good friends. Because as we mature, we also discover that it isn’t shared history that makes friendship strong, it’s that look in someone’s eye when we succeed. If that look is one of genuine love and happiness, you know you’ve found the key. And when your friend earns the top prize, the feeling in your own heart tells if you deserve it. M