Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"L'enfer, c'est les autres."

I'm not sure what's worse - being excluded or being misunderstood. Maybe they're the same thing.

This feeling of exclusion has permeated my entire life. Maybe it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'm an introvert. I generally prefer being alone (or with my boyfriend) to being with other people and I don't make friends easily. I can quickly shut down a relationship and freeze people out for reasons only known and understood by me. 

I have a peculiar sense of humour. Luckily, some people get it. Others don't. I remember cracking a joke once during an office event which I thought was quite a brilliant play on words, if somewhat inappropriate. It was met with silence and thinly-veiled looks of consternation. It was a bit of a shock to realize how conservative an audience I had. Sure, there's humour in the office, the obvious kind, but I guess there was no place for my Family Guy low-brow kind of humour. Message received.

As a woman with no children, I'm cast in a grey zone as some unfinished piece, often misunderstood. Why didn't you want to have children? You can't possibly understand until / unless you have children of your own. What's wrong with you? You must hate children. Well, I do hate some children when they have no boundaries, discipline or sense of etiquette, however, that can usually be attributed to the parents. There are other children I adore whose honesty, whimsy and spontaneous creativity I find endearing.

Familial relationships can range from incredibly meaningful to despair-inducing. A close relationship I had with one of my cousins, the closest thing to having a sister I'll probably ever have, blew spectacularly apart about a decade ago. It took a few years before we even spoke to each other again. Now, we cross paths at family events, say a few polite words and move on.

Part of me thrives on being an outsider and another part is deeply wounded by exclusion. I like not being easy to categorize and yet desperately yearn to be understood. If you're familiar with the Enneagram, I'm a classic Type 4 personality, wanting to feel different, special, unique, yet all the while wanting to fit in; an unfortunate paradox. 

It's very tempting to simply withdraw when I feel misunderstood or excluded, thus exacerbating the very circumstances causing me pain. Self-preservation wins over a balanced emotional perspective which is hard for me to find these days. My inner child is throwing tantrums, complete with irrational, egocentric demands that my adult self knows are completely ridiculous, all in the name of perpetuating some warped idea of a "successful" social persona before the very people I want to run away from.

Sartre was right. "L'enfer, c'est les autres."

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