Guest Blogger Alert!!! Our final guest blogger, Amy Sue Nathan, joins us to share some insights on why she no longer jumps through hoops.
There was a time in my life when it was important for me to be part of the in-crowd, to have certain clothes and particular accessories, to read specific books or magazines and go to the right places to see and be seen. I did not want to miss out. I cared what people thought of what I had and where I was and how I behaved. I never followed anyone off a cliff, but at the appropriate time in my life all that integral to my existence. I think that was called high school.
Not any more.
What I do and where I go and what I have is done for me. I like nice things and have enough of them, but they are not used or worn to impress anyone — nor are the bargain basement items obtained for shock value.
I know adults who drink to get drunk, I do not. I’d rather stay away from that be around it at this point in my life. I know people who use illegal drugs and I stay away from that too — not really understanding the appeal and having no need to fit in to that niche.
Perhaps the forced separatism I experience because I’m a single mom has not only made me able to fix toilets in a single bound, but it has made me realize that actions and acquisitions are not the stuff that friendships are made of. If I have to do more than be kind and honest and generous to be your friend, I’ll pass. If I have to have certain things to be in your closed circle, then I’ll make one of my own.
It baffles me that adults — both men and women — strive to fit their square pegs into round holes. I guess it’s human nature to want to be like everyone around you, and to use metaphoric camouflage to do so. But I have found that if you look hard enough there are always people with whom you mesh in one way or another - however and whomever you happen to be for real.
Even in uncomfortable situations I am comfortable in my own skin. I don’t mean that I don’t think about what I’ll wear or say or whether I’ll be an outcast or the center of attention, but the outcome will be what it will be. I’m polite and certainly look for welcoming eyes when I’m in a room full of strangers. I do not force myself to be who I’m not. I cannot be coerced into something I don’t want to do or somewhere I don’t want to go. Ask anyone who has tried.
The appeal of running circles around myself to fit into a group holds no appeal for me — frankly the thought of it exhausts me. I watch with a sad sense of wonder when I see women elbowing their way into a group or obsessing over how to fit in.
I’ve come a long way since jumping through hoops in high school in the ’80’s - and maybe even college and the ’90’s. Maybe my marriage, divorce, kids, moves around the country, jobs and lifelong friends have enabled me to step back from it all and watch without being part of of the rigmarole. Maybe I have the secret ingredient for self-actualization. Maybe I am fully evolved.
(Yeah, that sounds good.)
Or maybe I’m just too tired to jump.
Amy Sue Nathan is a writer, editor and single mom whose work appears just about everywhere including The Huffington Post Chicago, NY Times Online and The Examiner.