Monday, March 19, 2007

Fitting In....

While blog-surfing today, I read a post by someone on the topic of fitting in, finding likeminded others and such. It discussed the culture of blogging which was rather fascinating. Some points I agreed and some I did not. It's a topic worth exploring at some point.

It struck me hard because that is not a feeling that's familiar to me. And it goes far beyond the culture thing.

Some of us come with charisma, I believe. It's a light that shines from within and people just gravitate to it and those who have it never have to wonder whether they'll be included or accepted. It comes so naturally that it probably never enters their heads.

When I was really small, before Los Angeles, my mother used to chastise me. I was "too friendly". I knew everyone in the neighborhood and often disappeared into the homes of my little friends and my mother would have to come and find me. I would talk to anyone I met.. from the corner bum to the neighborhood cop. It didn't matter.

I believe that was the nature I was born with.

Sometimes life comes along and we're thrown into situations we're ill-equipped to handle. And charisma can die. In the absence of someone to explain it and educate us to social skills, it withers away. It dies like an unwatered plant.

Throughout school, I one of the ones who was excluded from the games, the cliques and the goings-on that make the lives of kids. I was not the one who was invited to the birthday parties. Nor did I have them.

I had a very intricate and well-designed community of my own creation. In other words, I had a rich fantasy life. I used to wander around and pretend to be someone else. It would give me a momentary thrill to meet some stranger and convince them that I had some fascinating history and life. (Most of those strangers probably knew a lot more than I realized! :)

Part of that fantasy life was all about how it would feel to "fit in", how that would look.

In my mind, it meant dozens of phone calls every day with people wanting my presence and my company. It would mean lots of letters in the mail. It would mean never spending a painful Friday night alone as a teenager. I would be smiling and happy alllll the tiiiiime! I would be so wanted and loved!

I would be married at 20 to my knight in shining armor, have 2.5 kids and a house in the Hollywood Hills. Maybe even Bel Air. That really did mean "fitting in" to me. At that time.


Today, both of my housemates were home. In the middle of the day, we had to find something. One of the renters at the other house is making an accusation that is not accurate and we had to find the receipt book and do the analysis, make sure that we were correct.

The receipt book was missing. All three of us searched high and low, in every crevice and crook of this house. We finally found it. Together, we examined the receipts, added, subtracted, came up with possible scenarios and developed our Plan A and Plan B. We laughed and made jokes but also dealt with the real possibilities.

D's son who lives nearby is sick. We all pooled together in our respective medicine cabinets and came up with aspirin, NyQuil and vitamin C. We each went through our cupboards and put a care package together for him with tea and comfort foods.

V. and I sat on the couch in the office and swapped old stories. He made a copy of a CD for me by "Low Stars".

We all had dinner and then went our separate ways.

And it occured to me: this is fitting in. This is what it really means. Inclusion without fanfare or deliberation. It just is... and that is really rather comforting.

I will never be the sort of person who gets tons of phone calls and invitations. Hell, I could plaster my phone number all over Craigslist and it wouldn't happen! LOL I will never be the one of the "in crowd". I will never be pursued. Even if it were part of my life path, I'm getting too old to relate at that level anyway. The charisma I may have had as a child will never come back. Too much experience and too much isolation killed that off.

But the ease with which we co-existed here today is good enough for me.

Not just "good enough". It was perfect!




hel said...

I also never felt as if I had a home untill I met Florian.

Now I have shared duties and talks and its wonderful.

Pam said...

I was never part of the "In" crowd. I am a lively, animated person but introverted and very private. This used to worry me but as I went through life I learned that where we belong is where we are most comfortable and that we cannot deny our basic nature.

I am not close to many people and do not enjoy large groups. However, the friends that I do have are wonderful people and when I am with them, I am home.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I talked about this with regard to our daughter. He feels that if she is "popular," her life will be easier, somehow. I doubt it.

The person who gets a lot of calls and invitations has to work hard at being and remaining popular. I know I could never keep it up.

meno said...

I feel very peaceful after reading that. You have described a small community that functions both together and apart.

I don't like large groups at all. A lot of noise and no communication.

Plus i love that picture at the top.

caro said...

I've learned to fit in as I have gotten older but meeting new people is always a challenge. I much prefer my own company. Great food for thought as always Chani.

jen said...

existence without deliberation.

i've never felt i had a home till i met J, and that doesn't make it perfect, but it makes me fully appreciate it all the time.

and that home has allowed me to reach and explore in other ways, and the branches slowly grow.

The Atavist said...

I can't stand crowds or noisy parties. I enjoy myself most in intimate settings with one or two people. And sometimes, we are our own best company and rightfully so.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

But you do have charisma to those who know you. It is very clear to me and your other regulars who belly up to your blog on a daily basis.

I was perhaps a bit strange in that I was an "in" kid but always felt like an outsider. I believe my peers saved my life because at home, I was the family scapegoat.

Most of us get what we need to survive, and as in everything, it's quality, not quantity, that counts.

Thailand Gal said...

Hel, I never felt it until I went to Thailand. I went to Thailand when I was nearly 50 years old.

But it helps to have these people here who share duties with me and keep me from getting too lonely. :)


Pam, I have all kinds of screwed-up thinking about "in crowd" and "out crowd".. stuff I need to grow out of. We always seem to romanticize what we didn't have.


De, I could never sustain it. It does take too much work. I'll be happy with a kind of middle-ground, inclusion without being smothered. :)

As for your daughter, there's no doubt that it would help her in the short term. The long term might be a bit rougher.


Meno, the picture is by Siripongs. That's a long story in itself. His artwork is very beautiful.

Our little mini-community here works pretty well. Today, we barely interacted at all.


Caro, I really don't mind my own company, for the most part. My situation here is almost ideal because we are just housemates. Our interaction is always voluntary.


Jen,.. the branches growing outward. Yeah. I like that!


Atavist, I can't handle large crowds or noise at all. My favorite times are casual lunches with friends. I do a fair amount of that.


Susan, your message is timely. I need to remember that. I can get really out of whack about some issues. It's quantity rather than quality. Maybe I should tattoo that on my leg. :)


Thanks, all...


Thailand Gal said...

Crud! Obviously I meant "quality over quantity." I need to pay attention. :)


MsLittlePea said...

I don't really have anything to add since everyone else had so many good points to make. But I wanted to say that this post really spoke to me. I loved it.

flutter said...

I love you just as you are.

Suzy said...

The community and belonging you described is the human equivalent of comfort food.

I look for relationships and situations that feed me. Sometimes it's still too easy to get sucked into a playground popularity mentality -- "I'll never be nominated as teacher of the year!" or "Nobody reads my blog!" Silly stuff.

But if I remain true to who I know that I am, it's pretty good.