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  • I have always liked to read books of minorities, of people who were somehow different, by choise or . I read novels about GLBT people, about Orthodox Jews in America, Chinese in London, Somalis in Finland; about the Amish, the disabled, the goths... I like reading about different religions, customs and cultures, but I am especially fascinated by the clash of the cultures and the interaction of subgroups, the "tribes" with the main culture.

    My own feeling of "outsiderness" was at its height when I was at 17 an exchange student in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I didn't understand my clothes were supposed to match, I was supposed to wear make up to school and I was not supposed to be exited about History or Math.

    Eventually I did make friends, but my only long-term friends from that time were my female English teacher and her friends. I found my tribe, the tribe of bright, witty, sarcastic women who loved books, music and discussions. Even though some of them were married or in relationships, they didn't feel defined by their relationships with men. They were also all in their forties, but I felt I fit right in.

    In my adult years I've continued to feel a bit like an outsider in many "mainstream" groups and cultures, but I have also learned to find my tribes and feel comfortable in them.

    I love my group of female engineers, who are bright and quirky and not at all manly even though we all like technology. I can share my thoughts and problems with them whether is about legal issues, child care or depression in the family, we've shared them all.

    In my dance tribe I don't know the jobs or the backgrounds of the people, but I've spent hours in their arms in sweaty dance halls. Whenever I go back to Finland, I go dancing and run into them and we carry on from where we left it last time.

    Nowadays I am almost a professional outsider, living and working in a different culture from my own. Here again I've found my tribes, and almost for the first time I am a comfortable member of the Finnish tribe, although of the expat variety. I've also found a multicultural group of friends, who all are also living on the edge of two or more cultures.

    I am pretty happy now. Maybe I feel like I belong only to places where I don't belong?
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