Monday, March 24, 2014

The mismatched piece

For as long as I remember myself, fitting in had been terribly important. A sense of being or doing something like everybody else gave me a warm glow and a sense of belonging; being "out of tune" made me feel like an outcast, someone who will never feel comfortable. I desperately longed to learn the steps of the dance, and every stumble brought me immense frustration. I guess it is natural when we are young, and even when we are older. 

In addition, school, and later university framed my life. The order of it made me feel secure. I didn't have to question what I was doing and when. Also, being a bookworm who had already learned it all at home, I had the opportunity to please my superiors (the teachers) and help other students. It was a great confidence boost.

Fast forward a few years, I got on the track of teshuva (becoming religiously observant). This changed a lot, but not all. While the identity of my new group/community changed, the desire to belong, to fit in, did not. I simply had new ideas now about how my life is supposed to look, how I'm supposed to behave, in order to be like everybody else, to be inconspicuous, to avoid standing out. 

There were new, but no less extensive, mental checklists. Married at 22 - check. A child at 23 - check. Another child at 25 - check. A long skirt, a certain type of headcovering - check. Inward sigh of relief. Now I'm like everyone else. Finally. 

Of course, things were different now. For one, I became a homemaker. My hours were my own now, and though it was an unusual experience, and I spent my first few months of married life floating on a cloud of relative disorder, I became empowered by it. I came to direct and organize my own day. I became more efficient. Contrary to what some warned me of, I did not get bored. My brain cells did not die one by one. Just the opposite happened - 6 years down the road, I'm always busy, always occupied in a productive way, always with something interesting to propel me forward. And I write. A lot. I stopped treating it as a childish hobby and began thinking of it as something mature and talented people do as well. I might be crazy, but it makes me happy. 

The mental checklists became harder to comply with. Regular job - not check. Children in daycare by age of 1 year - no, definitely not check. "Why do you only have 2? I'd have thought you'd like another one by now!" - strong urge to tell the busybodies to go for a long walk and air their brains to find words like "tact" and "consideration". 

I was naively happy when we moved to a community where most women stay at home and most children are raised at home at least until they are 3 years old. Still, I didn't always fit in. My background was different. My clothes were a little different, and so were my pastimes. I did not have as many children as those who have been married as long as I. 

Then it was time to throw all the comparison tables and mental checklists out of the window. I will never be like everybody else. I will never fit perfectly, no matter where I go. And at this point, I'm fine with it. It helps that I am married to a man who often feels like a big fish in a small net, so to speak, and never stops to think twice about what others think of him. He is supremely unconcerned, and I find this admirable.


Julie said...

Thank you for sharing. I always find it helpful & encouraging to hear how other ladies deal with concerns that we all face. Keeping you & your family in prayer as you travel through the changes of this life. Also praying for your safety as I see reports of the attacks against your country. Are your girls excited about moving to a new home?

Mrs. Anna T said...

Julie, the girls love this home and say they don't want to leave it, but I think that when we know specifically where we are going to move, and show them the new home, they will be excited.

Miriam said...

Welcome to the club, Anna dear! :-)

Kim said...

Congratulations! Well said. Fitting in is something we all struggle with, rest assured you are not the only misfit. I also had a mental checklist - got to college - check
get advanced degree - check
have a stellar career as a writer and university professor before I was 30 - no
get married by age 25 - nope
have kids no later than 28 - nada
live happily until old age with my husband - not quite.
Instead I got married at 35
had my little girl at 36
became a stay at home mom and found out I liked it!
got separated, but not divorced because we both hoped to make things work, because of verbal abuse
and then my husband passed away.
So now I am widowed, raising a child on my own, and trying to re-enter the workforce after a prolonged absence

I am starting over at a time when most women my age are settled in their careers or family life.
I still don't fit in either -- and like you I am at peace with that.

Katy M. said...

Not fitting in...embrace it! :)

Kathleen said...

"Supremely unconcerned." That's a great phrase!

Anonymous said...

I have a degree in nursing (still work from home just a few hrs a week to keep my license) but I have 4 boys that are 4yrs old and under (4yr old twins, 2 1/2 yr old, 9mo old). My husband is in law enforcement and works crazy hrs. While many of my friends are pursuing advanced degrees here I am at home. I feel odd sometimes for that reason and bc we are surrounded by people living very worldly lifestyles while we are not, and I'm not shy abt sharing our faith. As Christians we are called to be an odd people-I do realize you are Jewish Anna! but perhaps along the same line of thinking...?

maria smith said...

It's hard to learn to embrace your story. I still go up and down with my own. I think you have a great deal to be proud of. Not the least of which being you lovely kids. You share so many interesting things on your blog; tips, green cleaning and living ideas, address pertinent issues. You have a big life!