I am a freak. I know this. You know this. There is no disputing this. In terms of all the societal norms, I fail them. We’re not even talking about the biggies such as married, children, religion, etc. Those are a given, and it’s not something I think about much (despite my voluminous blogging about them). There was a time in my thirties when I was wistful about that part of my life. I was telling K that sometimes, I got jealous when I heard someone else had gotten married or had a kid. Admittedly, more the former than the latter. Actually, not the latter at all. I have never wanted kids. Ever.
But the former, yeah. Or someone who was promoted to a high position. It would stir a ping of envy in me that I could not articulate. When I brought it up to K, she said, “Minna. You don’t want any of that. You would be so unhappy if you had that life.” She was right, too. It made me think about what I really wanted–and it wasn’t a spouse with kids in a cookie-cutter house in the suburbs. I do live in the suburbs and don’t have an issue with that part because I have access to the cities while also the quiet of living in the suburb.
She was right in that I wasn’t pining for the actual things that these other people had–but for meaning in my own life. It’s easy to overlook that because I don’t have any of the societal benchmarks to gauge my life by. I’ve seen some YouTubers talking about this because their job as content creator is a fairly recent thing. It’s not easy to explain to people who aren’t in the industry because “I make videos for YouTube” sounds simultaneously mundane and incomprehensible. It’s like writing is some ways. Everybody writes, so they think that everyone can do it. Which, yes, many people can write–but it doesn’t mean they can do it well.
My friends are all on the outside more or less. They may fit in for certain aspects of life, but they’re all creative types. I don’t get along well with normies. Or rather, I don’t feel comfortable with normies. I can get along fine with them because of my superior people skills–by the way. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that I can read people in a way that other people can’t. I wrote about it yesterday or the day before, and I have to say that it’s the core of my personality. I was born with the talent, but I honed it when my mother forced me to be her confidante when I was eleven. She had all these emotions that she forced me to deal with, which meant I couldn’t deal with my own. It also meant that I became even better at honing in on people’s emotions. My brother talks about me being really good about reading people–and it’s partly innate, but mostly nurtured out of necessity.
I hate it. If I could get rid of it, I would. I hate feeling the pain that others people feel, which is how it manifests in me. I can tell when people are happy, yes, but I don’t actually feel that. Sadness, grief, anger, and pain? Yes. Those I feel in full.
There was a time when I was in my twenties when not only did I feel other people’s emotions to the hilt, but I knew why they were feeling that way, too. Obviously, I could not test that because you can’t really ask strangers if they’re in an abusive relationship or if their mother had died. But, just as I knew when people were pregnant and the at-birth gender of the child, I was pretty sure I knew why a person was as sad/depressed/angry as they were.
It was hell. I could not walk around without being pelted with the negative emotions of other people. It was not just emotional injury, by the way. It was physical–the pain, I mean. It’s one reason I became a hermit because I just could not deal with it.
One of the reasons I like to read advice columns is because it allows me to peak into ‘normal’ society. The Ask A Manager commentary section is the only one I read on the regular. The rest are a range from wince-inducing to ‘what the fuck are they thinking?’ I will occasionally dip into others, but then I’m either profoundly depressed, angry, or incredulous.
It’s amazing to me how people can’t see the whole picture. I have to remind myself of what my last therapist told me–that most people are thinking on a level 2 or 3 whereas I’m on a level 5 or 6. It other words, they literally cannot comprehend what I am saying to them. It made me feel both comfo0rted and more isolated. The former because it’s not me. I have the tendency to think that if I just explain things better, I will be understood. That’s never the case and at some point, I need to just nod, smile, and detach.
I have learned how to act like a normie. I can pass in short interchanges such as going grocery shopping or in a Taiji class. When I don’t have to talk much, it’s all good. I can do it for longer, but that’s draining on me. I do feel like it’s a superhero moment, actually, in that I have to wear a mask that firmly covers my personality.
It’s another reason I prefer interacting online as well. It is much easier to mask my weirdness when I don’t actually have to look at someone and interact by talking. Even as a middle-aged person, I have not been able to feel comfortable talking to other people. Inside, I mean. I can make it look as if I’m at ease, but it’s a lie. I have watched people all my life and can mimic them to appear normal, but it’s not real. It’s not comfortable, And I always prefer dropping the mask, which is why I like spending most of my time alone in my house. Me and my cat. He doesn’t need me to be anything other than what I am. As long as I feed him, he is fine with how I act. It’s one reason I appreciate my friends so much. I can be myself around them without any artifice. It’s a rare gift, and I’m glad they can give that to me.