I keep waiting for that time when I’ll be sitting down at a table with a bunch of my friends and be able to nod along and say, “Yes. Me, too.”
I don’t know how this has never quite happened, but it hasn’t. It has often felt like I’m just on the verge of achieving it. Or there are times when I think everything has aligned only to find myself at that table not able to nod along after all because everything has shifted.
It can be a low key catch-up conversation with friends. Or it can be a parent support group at work. Talk of spouses, date night, sharing household management, children’s activities, birthday parties, and having no time at all for a book. I sit there, I listen, and I try not to get all in my own head about it but it’s a struggle. I can get stuck in my head, stuck in feeling different. It can remind me of everything that’s wrong with my life and everything I don’t have.
When I actually do have things in common with my friends, it tends to be something unusual for them. Extraordinary circumstances. I am guessing I am not the only single parent who feels a little bit rage-y when people talk about the difficulties of solo parenting for a few days when a spouse is out of town. Even when we are the same, it’s not the same. For me solo parenting is all about getting into a rhythm and following a schedule. For regular people it’s being thrown out of whack, being spread too thin, and feeling unmoored.
It’s a definite flaw, how much I dwell on that feeling of exclusion. I wish I had the ability to sit down at that table and say, “Yeah, none of that applies to me because I’m just so unique and badass.”
I think I’m inching closer to it little by little.
I don’t really want to be normal anyway, do I? My philosophy these last couple years has been to stop feeling like I have to follow a set of rules and simply do things as they come, to figure them out fresh, to stop trying to fit things neatly into a predetermined package, to not worry about meaningless little dramas.
Even in this big city full of modern and progressive people, I realize I am something of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I look like I fit in, but actually I am something else entirely.
I kind of like being the wolf most of the time. When people discover these things about me they either find it fascinating or withdraw a little because they don’t know how to react. I’m cool with either one. I like surprising people.
Someone asked me the other day about majoring in Biochem when I was in college and I admitted that part of the allure was the response when I told someone my major. I liked seeing the surprise in their eyes. I liked seeing them intimidated. I liked being worthy of awe.
I’ve learned before that when I catch myself in this kind of mental trap, one that only causes me grief and isn’t useful that it’s best for me to actively push past it. I have to start to stop, recognize it, and remind myself of the decision I’ve already made.
Next time I’m going to stop and remember. “None of that applies to me because I’m so unique and badass.” After a few times it’ll start becoming second nature. And that terrible doubting part of me that so desperately wants to be just like everybody else will once again be set right.