Who else could possibly I be?
When I was younger, I was often distressed at how different I was than my peers. When I was a teenager, our family moved back to the States from Holland, where I had turned into a little Dutch girl in our 6 years there. I was 14 and wore short skirts and knee socks. I thought in Dutch, I dreamed in Dutch. I was on the rowing team, played field hockey.
When I showed up at the American high school, the girls were wearing poodle skirts and sweater sets and pony tails. They had impossibly tiny waists I never would match in my lifetime. Instead of caring about studying and about understanding the world better as everyone I had ever known in Holland does, all they cared about was football players and smoking cigarettes and competing with each other. No, they didn’t participate in sports themselves..
Well, that was 1956. I was only there a short time before I went off to college at age 16. My parents sent me to a women’s college, thinking I was not ready for a co-ed school. They were right and I liked college, where at least people talked about ideas, and I lived in a dorm with a roommate I enjoyed from Mexico City. We were sent to usher at the ballet and the symphony with basic black dresses and white gloves. Margaret Mead came to dinner one evening at our dorm. But they couldn’t have understood about the fraternity parties I would be required to attend with the rest of my dorm. I was 16 and most college freshmen were 18. Plus, not only freshman boys came to the parties, where there was a lot of drinking. And the fraternity/sorority/snooty set never has and never will interest me. I felt so completely socially inadequate.
That never got better for years and years. I went to several more colleges and then I was very lonely after I graduated from college and moved to Los Angeles. I understand now I was depressed – numb and locked into myself. Skip over a few years to 10 years in a commune, where I was definitely at least not lonely, but I continued to feel “less than” all the people who were “hip and cool” in a different way. After all, my depression was still untreated. When I left the commune I was lonelier than I had ever been – I didn’t even understand what the rules for social interaction were because the commune had its own culture. I was just an odd duck with self esteem in the basement and I suffered from deep depression.
It was only as I began my recovery from depression that I discovered the idea of self-love, never heard of it before. I came to realize that the people who were all competing to be better than someone else and who I felt inadequate next to and were all alike were, well – BORING – if you tried to get to know them. Just like the ones in high school. I realized I wouldn’t actually really WANT to BE them. I no longer felt inadequate and “less than.” I began to actually like my unique self. Wouldn’t trade my life for yours, I can only be ME, and glad of it.
I don’t care that much what other people think of me, don’t need you to accept me, and now I am proud and happy to just be me.
And funny thing is, when I started liking me, then people started liking me. And I even found another odd duck to share my life with me for the past 20 years. (Had been three times married and divorced – much drama for everyone – through the lonely self-hate years.)
Now I’m an old odd duck, growing vegetables and dust out in the Arizona desert. If you come to our house, be prepared for clutter and dusty floors. And no meat for dinner. If you don’t like it, well, don’t come. I’d love to see you though and if you want maybe we’ll do lunch at the local cafe. Or chat online.
Sending much love to any of you other odd ducks who may have been drawn to read this far. Hope you find out how special you are. Different isn’t bad. Different is individuated and healthy and on your oath and not in competition with anyone else. Would love to hear from you below. hugs, gerry