Thursday, April 30, 2009

Out of place and different

(This post has been kept hostage in my will-I-publish-this?-folder for a couple of days before I made the final decision to post it today. My intent is not to make anyone feel bad about themselves. If my words make you think, I'm glad. That's all I want.)

These last few weeks have had me thinking about the things we say to people we're around but don't really know very well. The things that are considered "socially accepted" but nevertheless not always really appropriate...

I've felt awkward among colleagues, knitting friends, my bookclub members and with some aquaintances. Not that anyone has tried to make me feel uncomfortable, but just the fact that normal small talk and joking around about "bonding subjects" shows me how "different" or "abnormal" I am, makes me feel even more out of place. Even when I'm among people I truly like.

There's the obvious baby/kids talk In which people assume that everyone wants children. And that wanting and having children is the right way to live. That there's something weird about being a woman and not wanting kids in your family.

There's the innocent invitation to "go for a drink" or to "celebrate with some wine". The notion of alcohol to be a natural part of everyone's life. The expectation that everyone will laugh when you tell a silly story about something that happened to you when you were drunk. Or when someone else was drunk.

There's the comment about the older man and the younger woman. The almost-always-there remark of disapproval or disgust when someone tells the group about the older man who hit on her. Or how the father of a friend moved out to start a new relationship with a woman being 25 years younger. The usage of words such as sick, weird, strange, disgusting, middleage crisis and wrong. The questioning of what she sees in him, how she can be attracted to such an old man and how she can live with someone who could technically be her father...

The comments get to me. Even though I see that they (usually) are just comments of the bonding kind. People getting together, trying to find some common ground in conversation. With no harm intended.


I'm child free by choice. I don't drink alcohol as I have too many alcoholics on my biological father's side of the family to feel attracted to a drink or to trust my own body and mind to not become addicted to it. I love and live with a man almost 20 years older than I am.

I wonder how often I make others feel uncomfortable when I'm just trying to bond with those around me. How often I'm opinionated in subjects that aren't as "safe" to talk about as I might think. How often my words become hurtful or make someone feel different or abnormal. Or just out of place.


Kim said...

Thank you for posting this, Anna. Maybe the word is closer to 'different' than 'abnormal'. Society drives us in some interesting directions.

Kate said...

Thank you so much for your honest and well-written post, Anna. :kram: One of the things that I think makes our little group so unique is that so many of us come from different backgrounds, different life experiences, different political and social views, etc. etc. etc. BUT (I believe) that we accept and respect our differences, have "agreed to disagree", and just focus on the things we have in common.

Your words always make me think!!! :)

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry you're made to feel that way sometimes! I know what you mean, a bit. I'm a bit of a misfit on a couple of things, since my religion makes me a teensy bit socially peculiar. I don't drink, either, or do a couple of other things that seem normal to most other people. It can seem strange to be on the outside of those things all the time.

Love to you. As always. :kram:

Kerstin said...

I know people who don't drink wine, I know people who've chosen not to have children, I know people who live with someone much older/younger than themselves. These people are among my best friends. They're really nice, strong people who have made their own choices in life. I drink wine, I have children, I'm married to a man my own age, but I can find that kind of small talk embarrassing too. Maybe because I have made other kinds of choices that some people find a bit strange. You shouldn't take to much for granted about other people. And you should accept their choices. And, Anna, if I ever join that kind of silly small talk, please kick my shins. Hard.