What amazes me is how my perception of myself can be so dramatically different from those of others throughout my life. I was a quirky kid. I joke now that I was ‘an alien baby left on my parent’s doorstep.’, since I always felt like I was a bit left of center. I viewed the world through magical lenses. I had an over the top imagination which has served me well as a writer. When I went to junior and senior high school, like most teens, I wanted to fit in. Dressing, speaking, acting like everyone else. There is a social strata….remembering that I was an adolescent in the 1970′s and as a poetic flower child, hippie wanna-be, I never was an athlete, a cheerleader, a student government leader, but neither was I a ‘stoner’. And yet, I had friends in all of those cliques. As such, I felt like a chameleon who was able to adapt to the expectations of each group, learning the lingo and behaviors. I can now track that as a component of my budding co-dependent relationships. I so wanted to be seen as one of the ‘cool kids’.
Fast forward to college and as a psychology student, I was drawn to work for a crisis intervention center where I immersed myself in friendships with other free spirits who seemed like they had it together. It was there that I honed my therapeutic skills, developed much of my creativity, and stretched comfort zones in relationships. We worked together, went to school together, played together and in various and sundry combinations over the years, had overlapping relationships. I longed to feel as sophisticated as I viewed my friends and colleagues there.
A few years ago, I had connected with another group of friends out of state who I see every few months and with whom I communicate on a few yahoo groups. Again, I had the impression that these people were a bit more adventurous in their lives than I was.
As I have reunited with high school and college friends in the interceding years, it became apparent that I had a skewed view of myself and of them. I have heard feedback from several folks that they had always viewed me as having it together and being self assured…if only they knew.
One of my newer friends, upon hearing my plaintive thought that I wanted to be like them…replied “We like hanging out with you, because you ARE one of the cool kids on the block.” I can tell you that it did my 50 year old heart good. Two of the bits of wisdom that my parents offered me that only now has been anchored in, were “They put their pants on one leg at a time just like you do.” and “Walk in like you own the joint.” Those ‘momisms and dadisms’ are what have allowed me to interview celebrities, with complete confidence, in my career as a writer and to walk up to complete strangers and strike up conversations.
Would that I had really gotten that way back when. It would have saved a great deal of adolescent angst. When you look in the mirror, I encourage you to see just how cool, you really are. You be chillin’
Shake it with Sister Sledge! I honor my family of choice wherever they are:)