Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 211: Fitting In Or Standing Out

As I was walking yesterday morning, I was thinking (big shock I know) that it has been 2 years since my 30th (gulp) high school reunion. My first thought was, "damn, I really am o-l-d," 30 years wow. But, as I was reflecting on the event, both the good and the bad of it, I was once again remembering that while all of us are chronologically 50, some of us are still emotionally 15; still seeing ourselves as part of some clique or pack.

Lest I digress too much, I thought about how some of the "girls" at the reunion were just as mean as they were back in high school. I actually saw them turn their backs on somebody that they thought wasn't "cool enough" to snub her as she headed towards them. Of course, me being me, I had to get in their face and say something. I did not cause a scene, but simply said that I thought it was a pity that at nearly 50 years old, they would still be so petty. Of course, they didn't talk to me for the rest of the night, which made the evening even more pleasant for me.

Those who know me, know that I am all about being who I am and saying what I think about things. However, this was not always the case. There was a time that I would have hidden from them or even worse, might have said something mean to the "nice" girl just to fit in. Yeah, I am not proud of the fact that I was that way and bowed (often) to peer pressure. But, at 50 years old, I don't remember the last time I even considered bowing to peer pressure. And if anything, I need to learn to be a bit kinder when I am speaking the truth, especially if it goes against the crowd (as it often does).

I wasn't the most popular girl in school, far from it. But, I wasn't the least popular either, I was in the middle. Not that it matters, especially now. But, it did then. As my friend Pablo always tells me, I seemed to be hiding. The exception to this was when I was with my friends, especially those louder and bolder than I. Then I would be completely inappropriate and say hurtful and mean things thinking I was being funny. I had no middle setting, I was either on or off. 

I know my experiences growing up are not unusual, especially for pre-teen and teen girls. All you want to do is fit in, be one of the crowd, and be accepted. The worst thing is to stand out and be "different."  Yeah, like I wasn't doomed from the beginning. I was born with two different colored eyes, that IS different. And now I love it, but then, not so much.

There were (and are) so many ways that I have never felt "part of the crowd." I often find myself shaking my head in disbelief at what is popular, what people think is important, and what they can't live without. I also used to think there was actually something wrong with me because I didn't (and don't) like many of the things that other girls and women do.

But, as I have learned in the past 50 years, I am not the only woman (or person) like this, who is "different." As I would tell my 15 year old self: we are ALL different, and that embracing our differences and sharing them is what makes life interesting and worth living.

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