I’ve battled with low self esteem issues since I was a teenager. If you’re different, it makes you an easy target for the world’s mean girls. I listened to different music, read different books and traveled a lot more than my peers did (and to a great extent, still do). I still have a hard time embracing my uniqueness, that I am one of a kind, a snowflake. Even in my mid 40’s, the sting of rejection can still smack me upside the head sometimes. It’s much less now that it truly bothers me, but there’s still a sucker punch sometimes if I come across a Facebook post that so and so did x…and I wasn’t part of it.
It’s not that I really want to be part of the in crowd, it’s more that FOMO that makes me want to be part of all that. Social media has really brought this issue to the forefront. Back in the day, exclusion happened, you just didn’t know about it. Generally speaking, thanks to years of scribbling in my journals and writing bad poetry, I’ve uncovered the fact that I actually kind of dig being alone. Not lonely, alone.
There is a big difference. Being alone, I can write/draw/create on my schedule. I used to travel solo for work, so I don’t have issues with being by myself in a restaurant, club or movie theater. I don’t always need an entourage around me. On a lot of levels, in my opinion, that’s shallow and vacant, the need for an imperial cult singing my praises constantly. In most situations, a good book and a pair of headphones are all I need to deal.
One of my biggest struggles socially is finding common ground to talk about with others. I don’t watch a lot of tv, and what I do watch most other people dont. I take great pride in the fact I’ve never watched the Bachelor or its related ilk. Most of the books I read are not found in mass market paperbacks or on any best seller list, so there goes that commonality. Then there’s music…which, my taste runs quite on the obscure side. My radio stations of choice happen to be WXPN and KCRW, both public radio based a thousand miles away from where I live-thank goodness for the Internet. Let’s just say that my playlists are quite diverse. Add in the fact that I have a son with special needs, and there is usually an abrupt end to that conversation.
As I grow older and more comfortable/confident in my own skin, the less I find I care about what other people think of me. It’s not that Im completely soulless (although I have been accused of that too), it’s just I’ve got better things to do. If I’m worrying about what people thought of me, I’m taking precious energy & resources from things that I’m passionate about-creating, supporting causes that jazz me, my family. Life’s too short for that.