Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Weird Mom

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I've always been very introverted. I don't believe it really has anything to do with my being an only child. I know plenty of people who have no siblings and are very outgoing and bubbly. From a very young age, however, I've just felt that my opinions were unimportant and unwanted, and even an annoyance, so mostly I have just stayed quiet. I don't know where this feeling came from. My parents certainly never told me this. However, it was just a feeling I had.  And often when I did or do have something to say, I feel like I am being ignored, so sometimes I repeat myself or come off as pushy, even though I don't mean to, in order to be a part of the conversation.
My shyness has contributed to my social awkwardness, which is something I still can't shake to this day. Because I am quiet, people sometimes think that this means I don't like them, or are bored with them, which just isn't the case. I've tried, to no avail, to change this, but it just never quite works out.
My problems with social rejection started when I was around seven, and we moved to a new town. To this day, I don't know what really happened, but I was immediately an outcast. I had many labels...ugly, fat, shy, poor, you name it, I've heard them all. And soon I began to believe it, and those labels became my identity. Looking back now at those early days, I wish I would've stood up for myself more, but I was terrified of getting in trouble or suspended from school, or making my awkwardness worse.
I've also never been the girl with a ton of friends. Even as an adult. Sure, I'd have close friends at times, but eventually, they'd stop talking to me, and drift away, no matter how hard I would try to rekindle the friendship. I've also always had a hard time making friends. People that I liked or admired that I wanted to get to know better and be around, did not feel the same way about me. I'm a very sensitive person, and this really hurt my feelings. After all, I was trying to break out of my introverted shell and be more outgoing. I realize that I may have come across as too pushy, or trying too hard, but I didn't know what else to do. I have always tried to be more social, so that I would feel more included, but it has always backfired. So, I just came to expect rejection. To this day I still have a really hard time getting and keeping friends. After being told in many ways that "There's just something off about you," you believe it, and believe that you are just somehow very flawed and others just have a natural aversion to you, and that will never change.
I've also been told by many people, even some close family members, that I have no sense of humor. This is not true. While I do admit that I'm a very literal person, and I often can't tell when someone is joking with me or is trying to be passive aggressive and attempting to start an argument, I do enjoy all kinds of comedy and humor. I especially enjoy sarcastic comedy. One of my favorite movies is the Tim Allen flick, Big Trouble. This movie is full of sarcasm, and I find it hilarious every time I watch it, and have quoted lines from it at times. After revealing to a family member that I really enjoy this type of humor, they immediately told me that it was wrong, and it was akin to being mean and a bully. This made me very upset and self conscious again, and has me wondering if I am just an inherently mean, bad person, and that is the reason I am such a social outcast. To me, laughing at a sarcastic movie or comedian, and enjoying their humor didn't even occur to me as being offensive.
Lately, I've tried to be more assertive in everyday life. After all, I've been told over and over that I need to be more assertive and to "put myself out there."  If I'm online, for example, and read something that I really connect with, I'll post a comment. Of course, not everyone is always going to agree with me, and that's absolutely fine. But because I never stood up for myself in the past, and at this stage in life, if I feel attacked, especially by someone I personally know, I have gone on the offensive. Sometimes too much. This again has led to me being socially ostracized. Being told you are uncaring and nasty really hurts, and couldn't be further from the truth. I do feel. Very deeply. Even about things that aren't a part of my life. The death of a celebrity whose work I enjoyed and admired, the death of a child who was killed by a gator at a theme park, just to give a few examples, have made me very emotional, and I have even cried about it on occasion. But because my opinions have cost me friendships, I have started to retreat back into to my introverted shell.
I have come to accept the fact that I will always be "off," and even those close to me don't understand me and never will. So what does this have to do with being a parent you might ask? Let me explain.
My hopes for Sara, and for her future siblings is that they are socially accepted. Sara is a very smiley, happy baby. At just over 2 months old, out of necessity, I put her in daycare. I am thankful for this. She seems to really enjoy her time with the other babies and children, and I believe it has helped her development too. I'm hoping that this early socialization follows her through school and into adulthood.
I will always let her to know that her opinion matters, and that she should speak up if she has something to say. And also, she should defend herself if she is the one being bullied. If she feels that she is being excluded or that she is the outcast, or different one, to ask those around her why they feel that way. I wish I had done this, but because of my sensitivity and shyness, I have never done so. I will foster (but not push) her to engage in social activities such as sports or dance, or whatever her interests may be, so that she can learn to work as part of a team and have a creative outlet in order to express herself.
And most importantly, when that day comes, as it inevitably will, if she has a classmate or someone in the workplace, or wherever, who is the odd one, that she should take some time to get to know them, talk to them,and find out something interesting about them. I will let her know that even if they differ from her in opinion, or how they dress, or what neighborhood they live in, or whatever, that they still matter, and deserve to be included, and she should try to understand them. I just hope that her classmates, and everyone whose paths she crosses in life, would attempt to do the same.

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