Apr 302008

I really wanted to write my monthly post about something social. Really. There would have been something about becoming a mother, and society, and books, and the color pink. Again. But then I found that it isn’t about pink books in bookstores for me, or about somebody saying that, well, he doesn’t feel that discriminated as a knitter since the whole fashion industry is dominated by men anyway (While most of the editors and designers are women, heads of publishing houses are obviously mostly men which doesn’t surprise me at all though it should.) – anyway, it isn’t about all that – it is about the feeling that I have of not fitting in at all. You know, in real life.

While I spend most of my time sitting in my house, often in front of the computer, I do meet people on a daily basis. And on a daily basis I am confronted with people, their actions and their ideas, and am startled at how different they are from me. And every single one of them assumes that I’m just like them!

Today alone I talked to somebody who told me – like everybody does – why it’s so nice to use your car when going on vacation, and how safe, and cozy it is, and how independent you are. While I thought of traffic jams, not being able to move around for hours, having to stop traveling for going to the toilet, and having to concentrate and take care for hours on end. And, I’m sorry to tell you, driving is not the safest way to travel. I’m very proud of me because I didn’t give her the “Why air travel is bad for the earth and should be avoided as much as possible”-speech. Or the “Why all this driving around will come back to haunt us in the end, is bad for the earth, and should be avoided as much as possible”-speech.

Then somebody phoned my husband with an unnecessary and dumb request for help assuming that we, of course, would spend today “preparing for tomorrow”. What’s tomorrow? Tomorrow’s Labor Day, and of course, right now everybody is running around like a chicken with its head cut off because they have to, I don’t know, run errands or something. For my husband and me today is Wednesday, the day where we teach a lot, and I had to re-arrange my whole schedule to pick up my son from kindergarten because my mother-in-law is on vacation. It’s also a nice sunny day. Nobody here in the house will starve because shops are closed tomorrow.

Then I went to the tea shop and had the “It’s nice that your son stays in kindergarten a year longer because then he’ll have an additional year to be a child.”-conversation. What? Here I am thinking that school is part of childhood, that learning is fun, and that responsibility is something children crave. Silly me. Everybody else knows that school is only hardship and marks the end of everything good in your life.

And in a way I can’t blame people because from where I stand they are right and their lives don’t look very attractive to me.

All this really happened today. I didn’t put it here to get a better post. And all these things leave me with the feeling of living among strangers and not fitting in. And you might think that if only I were with other musicians I’d feel better but they are full of assumptions too. And most of those don’t fit me either. So even if I’m going to an improvisation workshop tomorrow I don’t really hope for the feeling of being among my tribe.

It’s surely me, I never felt like I fitted in anywhere. Not with the children I grew up with, not with my family, not in school, nada. These days I’m very happy if I find people who understand even a tiny part of my life. Writers to talk about writing with, knitters to talk about knitting with, bloggers to talk about blogging with (well, and a few other things but that would so totally ruin this sentence), and my husband to talk about everything else with.

My husband, like me, is somebody who feels like he never fits in, and I’m very very happy to have him because otherwise I’d feel like I were nuts while the whole word is sane. But the funny thing is that my husband and I are wildly different. And have problems understanding each other. But at least none of us assumes that everybody else is just exactly like we are. (And I’ll just use this sliver of an opportunity to say that we just had our 13th wedding anniversary on Monday and that I felt it was an occasion worth celebrating.)

So you might think that I’m of course feeling out of place all the time because I’m concentrating on the differences so much. No, I don’t. For decades I went into every social situation with a feeling of happy anticipation, I was curious about people, I tried to be like everybody else, I really tried hard, I kept looking up and down, met a lot of people, and tried to look under the surface. And every single time I was greeted with remarks that left me totally startled and confused. And so I find that I’m faring better when assuming that something like this will happen eventually. That I might have to make myself comfortable as much as I can in a square hole.

Also, you might think that this is a mighty whiny post, and you’re right and so I’ll leave you with a nice little picture of something orange that’s totally unrelated to everything I wrote before:

It’s the Mystic LIghts shawl. I love the pattern, I loved knitting it, the whole knit-along was a very pleasant experience, and I’ll surely love wearing it.

And you might want to check out the collaboration between my husband and my son

  11 Responses to “Not fitting in”

  1. oh, you. i get it. and we all need time to get it out. my son will be a year longer in kindergarten. honestly? i could not care less.

  2. I didn’t fit in either, and I really tried, for a long time. I only got happy when I stopped trying to. The thing I’m learning now is that other people don’t like knowing that you’re not the same as them – it makes them uncomfortable.

  3. The following sentence created a university friend many years ago:

    Wir sind alle normalverrückt!

    (Maybe: We are all normal-crazy)

    For me, it means: others who aren´t crazy in some way, are not normal (and not interesting at all). I think it helps, that I´m living in a big city – here there are enough crazy people.

  4. So what’s wrong about not fitting in? Do you have to fit in, and be “normal” and like everyone else? That would make the world really, really boring.
    I stopped wondering about the strange opinions and lifestyles of other people when I was 16, and just assumed their education was a bit different from my own.

    (That works. For example, I never understood why my friends told me it’s dangerous for me to walk (!) all alone (!) from one end of Germering to the other (!) at 3 o’clock in the night (gasp). Than I figured out *their* parents always told them not to walk alone at night, and *my* parents gave me Terry Pratchett books as birthday presents.)

  5. Define normal I luckily live in a small english village where all our differences are accepted. I am thought of as slightly strange but it is regarded as a good thing. I have only seen differences as good things and have amde it a mission to stand out of hte crowd. I hope my children will feel the same too. I have a friend who has a nervous breakdown at the thought of havig her eyes checked and yet doesnt bat an eyelid when her children have a temperature of 104/5. One will not drive on the motorway and at least a handful of women my age cannot drive at all. one person always shouts out her food is all organic and doesnt seem to mind that it is flown all the way from peru (that annoys me). Talks about saving the planet and then drives ANSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE.

  6. Here’s to not fitting in and not letting that silence you. Be bold.

    and Happy Anniversary.

  7. Where are all the people who feel like they did fit in? Do you know any? I guess i haven’t asked everyone i know, but it sure seems like a lot of us bloggers have feelings similar to yours.

    i LOVE that orange for the shawl/

  8. I was talking to my girls today about the importance of just being yourself, not trying to please and make friends because they felt they had to.

  9. Me and Florian often discuss this very same thing. How we always felt like outsiders looking on while people run around chasing goals that seemed, well somewhat ridiculous and not that attainable. For example, consistently finding a party that suddenly makes life seem worthwhile.

  10. I could never knit more than a bookmark or a scarf, anything clearly a rectangle. As to the feeling of not fitting in…I’m EXACTLY the same. (Just kidding.) I think there are more of us out there than you or I think, though. I met an elderly woman the other day when I was working and I was suggesting places to visit. She kept saying, “I keep to myself, I really do.” I wanted to hug her and say, “I understand. I’m one of you.” And then slowly back away…(I found you via Crazymumma’s site from a year ago or so.)

  11. somehow i missed this post earlier…i just wanted to say i think you fit in better than most. because you know who you are and live with intention.

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