People change. This is something that is known, but seldom appreciated.
My friends and I signed each other’s yearbooks in glitter gel pen ink that said, “Don’t ever change! Stay you!”
It feels like such a naive thing to say now. Of course we’re going to change. We’re human. I’m not the same stubborn child I was when I was five or seven or nine.
I’m not completely different—I’m still the same person who stood on the wooden porch of a 55-acre farm with her younger cousin, yelling, “WE’RE THE POOR PEOPLE, WE’RE THE TRASHY PEOPLE,” and other obscenities. 🤣
One of the things people are constantly telling me is how I’m different.
“You’re different,” they say.
“You’re just different. You’re not the same. I don’t like it.”
I don’t know what you mean, but? Okay.
On the off chance they decide to divulge, or share, with me what it is that they find different about me, it’s usually something I didn’t like about myself/my life that I’ve changed.
- “You never used to just be okay with something. If I didn’t like it, you said sorry and didn’t do it again.”
- “What happened to the little girl who kept quiet? Why do you have to be so loud?”
- “What you just said is rude because you’re supposed to respect your elders, and that includes not correcting them.”
I don’t know how to respond, other than shrugging and letting the conversation sink into an awkward silence while the other person awaits a response from me they’ll never receive, because it’s not the one they want and I don’t have a response for them.
Like, this is me, Jane! I walk away from in-person conversations mid-dialogue sometimes. I stop partaking in certain conversations if I suddenly realize, Wait—I don’t want to fight this battle! I don’t respond to messages blahblahblahing about stuff I didn’t ask about or don’t relate to. People are always sending me links to Cat Friend vs. Dog Friend videos and saying, “OMG, I TOTALLY GET YOU NOW. YOU’RE A CAT! Why didn’t I see it sooner?”
Ah, yis. I knew Todd and I had shared some special language.
I did change, though, but I see it as being for the better. A lot of experiences changed me, but I never fully got to live out those changes in the way they changed me, because my mother and her husband infantilized me—and I’m not saying this in the way of Oh, yeah, it’s all their fault! I mean it in the way of, like, what you’d see in a Lifetime movie or soap opera or reality TV show your mom or grandmother or someone in your life can’t take their eyes off. They can’t miss an episode of Jane Lawson: Guess What She Did Next! And, like these shows, they’re all typical over-dramatizations of what actually happened, because in theater you’ve gotta put out twice as much to the audience as you do on the actual stage—go above and beyond.
And I was weak to it all, unable to protect myself, my narrative, my autonomy—I had none of it, because none of it was mine. In 2010, my mother was dead-set on me getting the Gardasil vaccine despite the many reports on several news channels about teenage girls who had died. “If I say you’re getting it, you’re getting it. I don’t care how old you are, you’ll get what I give you because you’re a child.” I was nineteen. The most action I got happened when Mimi’s dogs decided they needed to stick their noses right up my butt. I could buy cigarettes and get a tattoo if I wanted—except I couldn’t, because my given first name is Hebrew for “angel”. My name may as well have been Chastity.
So. Different. I’m different. On the days I’m doing myself, I’m either “different” or “living in the past and need to grow up”. I can’t win. I don’t care to anymore. So what?
But what I have a lot of trouble understanding about this You’re Different equation is when people see in me something—or someone—just not there. One gesture is taken as the other person wishes to perceive it, and when I’m not into repeating the same gesture, it shocks them.
You guys. I walk away mid-dialogue. Like, it’s happened so many times it’s an inside joke between my dad and his wife and I. I’m not always the one talking. When people see it for the first time, they’re like, “Wait, did she really just—oh, she didn’t…!”
It’s not a likeable trait. I don’t have a likeable personality. I’m not disappointed, I’m just tired of fixing myself to be likeable by other people, because at the end of the day is a me who is super exhausted and fed up with all the BS. If I’m not disliking that person I tried to please, then I’m hating about myself the things I had to suppress. And believe me when I tell you suppressing shit eats you up.
(I’ll go into detail later—for real. I’m not just saying that to forget about it later. It’s in a post I’ll share when the time is right for me and my life.)
I would disappoint a lot less people if only they stopped seeing me for who they want to see and started seeing me as I am.
Until then, they’re only gonna be—