You would think that by a particular age (say, forty-five), you might have found your niche. You’d have People, a circle of friends that would open and admit you without question and understand you without cross-examination. You’d look into faces that would reflect your own age, your own story, your own world.
I mean, it seems like other people have found their tribes. They know how they fit in. They don’t stare at themselves in the mirror and wonder if they’ll ever really, truly fit in. They aren’t too old or too young or too fat or too quiet or too busy to have friends like them. They find themselves in a crowd of people and they blend in . They don’t have to explain or wonder.
Or maybe I’ve idealized other people’s realities. Am I making stuff up? Is everyone having parties that I’m not welcome to join? Has everyone joined hands in a wide-ranging network that excludes me?
Furthermore, will I ever stop thinking I’m the only one who isn’t invited?
Do I have a group?
When I was young, I was pretty grown up. I didn’t have time for frivolity. I couldn’t see the point in dances and football games and gossiping about boys. I found safety in the school library. I was just biding my time until I could be an adult.
When I was a bride, all I wanted was to be a mother like my peers. Instead, I buried my 47-year old father. Infertility blocked the door to motherhood for years.
When I finally became a mother, I was an old mother. The oldest kindergarten mother . . . all the other mothers were so young. And that was when my now-16-year old boys were five. I am definitely the old mom now, finding myself around mothers who are young enough to be my daughters. It’s weird. I forget that they must think I’m ancient.
My peers have children in college and I have a daughter in first grade.
I just never quite fit in. I’ve always been out of sync, out of step. I’ve never had any rhythm, really.
I’m funny. I’m a good listener. I can make small talk.
So why does it bother me that I don’t have an entourage . . . a posse . . . a group of my own?
I’ll let you know if I ever figure it out. Meanwhile, I’m just going to assume this post was written by my inner-ten-year-old.
11 thoughts on “Uninvited”
You MUST simply MUST read C.S. Lewis’ address to a college graduating class – The Inner Ring. I could pull this off the shelf every day and learn something new about this subject.
Hello! Are you sitting smack-dab in the middle of my head? The girl in the library, grown up at a young age. Girlfriend, you are singing my song. It used to bother me that I didn’t have legions of friends, that I was never the center of attention…or at least invited to the parties. But, Mel, sometimes I wonder if that isn’t something forced down our throats like being Size 0 is the only way we’ll ever be happy…that it’s all media-blitz hype. Honestly…do you even KNOW anyone who’s like that, outside of New York’s sociey Blue Book patrons? The Kennedys? It seems, in general, that most people are just like us. I know I’ve got a few more years under my belt than you do, and I was one of the young moms, but suddenly around 50 you all of a sudden come to the realization that…so what?! I am more comfortable in my skin now than I’ve ever been. I will never learn the beat of anyone else’s drummer other than my own. But, you know what? I like the tune my drummer plays. Life is so stinking short, when it all boils down to eternity. I am bound and determined to just enjoy what I have left. I’ll be perfectly content on the day I die if I live long enough to see my grandsons live to adulthood. If not…it’s been a pretty good walk on this ol’ ball of mud. When I read your entries like these, I still marvel at how you and I are so basically alike. You ever get lonely and want to dump? You have my email. I’m a great listener, too. And funny.
I agree with MissKris….I spent several years trying to make sure I did the right things but then I realized those were not the right things for me. It was what society said was right. Although, I married at a young age, we waited 10 years to start having children. I was one of the older moms in my son’s Kindergarten class and now I think I am the oldest in my son’s 3rd class. But you know what it does not bother me anymore! It use to bother me not to be invited to parties and wondering why I was not invited and now I really don’t care. I have a circle of friends that I count on and that is all I need. Our lives right now involve our children (which means mostly baseball)! I love being a baseball mom! Our children grow up to fast not to try and enjoy every minute. Even though every mintue these days in not a joy….I have a new teenager 13! I think people in general forget what is most important God, spouse, children and family. And after all of that if you have the time or the energy to join the party circuit…more power to you. For me all of my extra time goes into volunteering. Thanks Mel for sharing your thoughts, I look forward to reading all of them.
I was a loner as a young child and even when I got into high school and found my “niche”, I still had insecurities. (How does it go, “I wouldn’t want to be a part of any club that had me as a member?” I’m butchering it, but you get the idea.) That 10-year-old-inner-child still lives on, but now that I’m at the ripe old age of 50+, I have my group of friends, but absolutely love the solitude of my own company. I was an older mom — 7 years of infertility and then three adopted kids. I never fit in with the “young moms”, and eventually just found moms my own age to ‘play with’, even if our kids weren’t the same ages. Besides, it can be rather cumbersome and awkward having friends whose kids are friends with your own kids. I find that my involvement in activities that I enjoy — book club, Bible study — produced a nice social outlet and a couple of treasured friendships grew out of them.
I so enjoy your blog and your perspective on life, Mel. I’m sure that if we lived closer, we’d be in each others’ posse;)
Mel, as we both know Judy is one smart cookie so I looked up C.S. Lewis’ “Inner Ring” and here’s a link for you. Wonderful stuff! What a brilliant man!
you have blog friends…we are always clicking away to see if you have bits of news for us. you fit in just fine….
huh, I wonder if we’d be friends in real life because of our shared experiences?
I too an old soul, my dad died when I was 17, I struggled for 6 years to have a baby (her name is the same as your daughter’s) and now I keep wondering what is wrong with me that I’m happy not to have all the drama that often accompanies female friendships.
I used to feel this way too but I have come to realize that I don’t want to be a part of a circle of friends to put that much time into it. My husband is my best friend and I don’t need or want to talk to someone else on the phone all of the time. I don’t shop like everyone else so going shopping with others doesn’t work for me. All in all most of the time I like just who I am. Once in a while I wish I were more involved in a group. When that happens I just think about the sacrifices I would make to make that happen and realize I like my life the way it is. I have found that doing volunteer work has helped to fill my social needs.
As with sleep, me too: a bit of a square peg, somehow.
“Is everyone having parties that I’m not welcome to join? Has everyone joined hands in a wide-ranging network that excludes me?”
No, everyone has created a wide-ranging network where they are included. Social networking where you can claim 568 friends is the new black. Don’t be fooled. NO ONE has 568 ‘friends’. In fact, most people have maybe 5 friends, if they’re lucky. Most likely they have 2 friends. Do you have 2 friends? Then consider yourself ‘included.’
You’re not alone in not having a group…it’s hard to make friends in Washington. I just came back from my father’s last days and funeral in Ohio and realized I have a great group there… they know me, they love me, they accept me…but haven’t found my niche in 23 YEARS in this unfriendly state. My advice–move elsewhere. People are not friendly here. (Sorry if I’m using your blog to vent).