Elevatin’ To Another Level – Not Higher, Just Different

I always wanted to be the party girl.

No. Scratch that.

I always wanted to be included.

But I wasn’t.

In high school, the guy I had a major crush on, and who I thought had a major crush on me, went to see Rush perform at the local university without me. I was disappointed and I asked him about it. He said, “I didn’t think you were the type.”

What type is that? Sure, I didn’t smoke pot. Yes, I was the one nursing a beer all night long, pouring sips down the sink when no one was looking so it would look like I was finishing my drink at an appropriate pace. I suppose he and his friends didn’t want me tagging along, judging their smoking and drinking and having a good time. But I didn’t judge. Not really. It just wasn’t for me. I still enjoyed their company. I still wanted to be included. And while we did a lot of things together, I still didn’t feel like I belonged.

That group I so desperately wanted to feel a part of was brilliant. I mean it. All were in Advanced Placement classes. One (my crush) went to MIT on full scholarship (but then got kicked out for dealing drugs.) One went to Berklee and his girlfriend went to Juilliard (she dropped out to become a psychologist.)  Another was in med school when he died of a brain aneurysm. His dad was a surgeon who demanded an explanation and rumor has it, a full autopsy revealed that it was from prior drug use. How they determined this, I don’t know – it is rumor, after all. Maybe it was to scare us straight. Maybe the family wanted to cling to something because Tony had been clean for years.

They were bright. They were funny. They were wild.

And I wasn’t.

Enter college, and I was married by the time I was 21. Still finishing college. But now I was an old married lady. Fellow students wanted to go out and celebrate after a big test but I had a husband to get home to. Pull an all-nighter with a co-ed study group? Too awkward with my husband at home who had work in the morning. With all the detours in my life - changing majors, schools, getting married – it took a little longer for me to finish college. My peers were only a little younger than me but they looked up to me, like some wise sage. Oh, the difference a few years makes when you’re young.

They were bright. They were fun. They were free.

And I wasn’t.

I had my first child when I was 29. Two more when I turned 40. That ten-year span puts me at odds again. The parents of my daughter’s friends are exploring new hobbies, going on more vacations, spending more time out with friends, experiencing freedom again. But we still have two small boys at home. Having a blast with them (with less energy than their friend’s parents) we’re a little more tied to the home front, still acutely aware of how much raising children costs, getting to bed early even on the weekends. The parents of our boys’ friends are the ages of my former high school students. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – but there is something to be said for those 10 years of life experiences.

They’re still interesting. They share in parenting joys and frustrations. But every once in a while, a comment will reveal that they’re still green.

And I’m not.

The paths I have chosen have always kept me out of the loop. I’ve never quite felt as if I belonged anywhere, really. And those choices have kept me from being included in things. Parties. Concerts. Study sessions. Play groups.

The odd one out.

Most of the time, I’m OK with that. Most of the time.

But some days, it’s lonely.

I’d like to think that, all my life, I’ve just been on a different plane, a different level.

Not higher, just different.

And some days, it sure would be nice to be dancing with everyone else – at the same concert, at the same party, on the same level.

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28 Comments

Filed under Music, Ponderings

28 responses to “Elevatin’ To Another Level – Not Higher, Just Different

  1. That guy obviously didn’t read your blog. You have given a few signs. :)

    And just so you know I’m not totally dumb yes I’m taking liberties with the blog timeline. I know the college guy predated your blogging. :)

    Based on your descriptions of back then you sound like the coolest one by far. Way cooler than the so-called cool. I think it just takes time to realize that being the odd one out from that sort of scene is actually the coolest thing of all.

    I think I can see and understand where you are coming from and I mostly share the feeling. Except I never wanted to be included. I tried to do what I wanted and ignore the rest.

    In fact, I remember leveling some fairly heavy criticism on my best friend who made the varsity football team. He was a good friend but I felt he tried to hard to be “cool” and that it affected how and why he did everything he did.

    After high school and a few years apart I came back home and saw him in a different light. It was a sad time and we ended up drifting apart.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post! I even liked the musical pairing. But I do think the “wired all wrong” tag is misplaced unless you are directing that at everyone else. :)

    • Thanks for your faith in me – I can always count on you! Being a part of something is all I’m pining for in this post – not to be “cool.” Being cool would be …..wrong on so many levels in my book! (Wired All Wrong is the band that sings Elevatin’)

  2. Wow, Jane, I know exactly what you’re saying about being the odd one out. I was also married at 21, so was done with the “fun” scene quite early, especially since we started a family right away. We are known as “those young parents,” or “those parents with the older girls” depending on who you talk to…we are in a group of our own. That’s not to say I don’t have some lovely friendships, but I’m definitely not a “groupie.” ;) Such a well-written post — thanks for writing it~

  3. Great post, Jane!

    We had our son when I was 20. Instantly, my party girl days were gone. So much faster than any of my other friends. I lost contact with most of them very quickly. We just didn’t have things in common anymore. My husband-to-be was (is) 7 years older than me and already had a stable career. I feel like I grew up really fast.

    At work I always relate to, and have more in common with, women who are at least 10 years older than me. But at the ball field (or where my son and other parents are), I feel like a little kid. Like the other parents look at me differently because I am so much younger than they are. It’s hard to strike a balance. We have a few friends that we relate to, but not a lot.

    I hear you. I understand. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I really related to this post, Jane…

    In high school, I didn’t fit in because I started my own business at 16, and was dating a 24-year-old (whose emotional age was probably about 20!). I moved in with him after graduating a semester early.

    After we broke up, I moved back home for a while, and worked for three years before going to community college. I was 22, while many of my classmates were 18 or 19 (I liked to go to parties, but I didn’t smoke, do drugs, or drink more than two drinks in a night). I met my future ex-husband at school (he was 26), and dropped out halfway through because he got a job in another province (1000 miles from home). We were married a year later. I stayed in the Maritimes, and have missed many significant events in my friends’ lives (weddings, births, etc.)…

    I had my first child at 25, and my last at 37 (surprise!), so I’m definitely an “old mom” compared to my junior high daughter’s classmate’s parents. After my marriage broke up, I was a single mom for 11 years, which puts one in a whole other lonely box!

    I belong to a book club…I’m the oldest member, and usually don’t socialize with the other women outside of the club – they often go out together without inviting me (yes, I’d like some cheese with that whine!).

    I started my blog in March of this year, and have met some very talented female writers online…finally, I feel like I belong to a kind of blogging sisterhood!

    Wendy

  5. In terms of family/career planning, I also feel like the odd one out – I am the only one of my friends not living together (even leaving my country ànd partner behind) while they are getting married, having kids, building houses. And I’m not. And I so much want to be part of it, to be able to join in on the diapers- and flower girls-conversations.

    But here’s the thing, like you said in the beginning: it’s just not for me. While it is frustrating (“I’ll be OLD before I’ll be ready for kids!”), I am pretty sure I am happier here alone in Sweden than I would be with a baby on the way.
    Belonging can make you happy, but it’s more important to make those choices that make you happy than those that make you belong. If you can have it both ways – more power to you! But not belonging, sometimes, will make you happier. And while that may sound selfish I can assure you : you cannot make other people happy, mean anything to them, if you aren’t happy yourself.

  6. Thanks for sharing this … you are definitely not alone. I have always been the one to not fit in, also … I know too well, the feeling of being a third wheel or a tag along most of my life. Currently, since all of my friends, co-workers and family members are married (and busy with kids) and I am not … I am even more isolated and lonely these days and crave “belonging” intensely.
    I try to remember that not belonging does add riches to your life in other ways (ie: it kept you from the drug problems of your high school group) … sometimes better … but, like you, I would like to feel I belong sometimes.

  7. I send you transatlantic hugs, empathy and lots of ‘been there too’. xxx

  8. We have spoken about this a bit, so I think you know where I stand. Next to you in this virtual world, wishing I were closer in *real* proximity. It’s okay, Misfit Sista. You gots company ;)

  9. I’ve been the “old lady” among my friends for a long time — dated one guy I’d met before college while they were meeting and experimenting with new people, never partied, got married first. I’ve always felt my lack of spontaneity whenever I’ve been around those friends because there was always another exam to study for, a paper to finish, and eventually other life responsibilities that came with becoming a teacher with a salary (and lack of free time) to match. I wanted to fit in with their more carefree approach to life. But I’m not that person, and I’d be unhappier trying to make that work.

    All this to say, I think I get what you’re feeling. It gets lonely sometimes.

  10. What a wonderful, vulnerable, poignant post. You’ve given us a real sense of you.

    I love that you weren’t “cool” in the way others thought they had to be. I love that you knew who you were and what was right for you (and wrong for you) when there was so much peer pressure to act otherwise.

    I can’t imagine what it would be like to marry so young (I married at 35), but I can relate to the odd woman out thing in many ways, and being an older mom is just one of them.

    Many of us are somehow out of sync – but in different ways, at different times. And it can be uncomfortable, and as you say, it’s hard to feel like you belong.

  11. You described me perfectly. Married at 20 and 2 (almost three) by the time I’m 24. I’d say that classifies me as “odd.” But, at the same time, that is why I relate so well with ladies who are older than me. Most of my friends happen to be in the thirties but it feels like we are the same age (does that make sense?) . I think that is why I’ve never really felt alone unless I am surrounded by those who are my same age, I tend to gravitate to people who think similarly to me and my husband.

  12. I have only felt like the odd one out since having my daughter at 43. I remember the very first play date we went to and the hostess talked about wanting a second baby sooner rather than later as she did not want to be old and in her forties. When I then said I was 43 you could have heard a pin drop in the room filled with young, first time Moms. But yet I don’t mind it, people either accept me for who and what I am or they do not, for the most part it seems they do. It has made me much more open minded too and has taken me out of what was a very specific lifestyle and accompanying set of friends. So actually I think I like being the odd one out :-)

  13. I feel that way too. My high school experiences were much like yours as I didn’t do drugs and barely drank. In college, I was actually excluded because I was younger than everyone else and refused to get a fake ID. Plus I had to work 40 hours a week to support myself through school while all my other friends partied. Now, I am the only unmarried, single teacher in my department. People keep asking me obnoxious questions. Le sigh…

  14. As usual, you’ve struck a chord with many here, myself included. My first online journal over 10 years ago now was called ‘Periphery’ (the clue’s in the title). Now, especially with the advent of blogging, I’ve come to understand that *many* of us feel a little out of kilter with others and that knowledge is at least comforting.

    Blogging is great but I do understand the need to feel that you fit in with a tribe in real life. I only wish we all lived closer.

  15. Christine

    I met and married my husband young as well. In fact he’s the only man I EVER dated. My entire adult life has been with one person. I have no regrets, but I sometimes wonder what would be different had a I taken a different path. The same is true of the education I ended up with. In the end I have a strong and promising career, but things didn’t go as I expected (and to be quite honest, looking back that is something I wish I could change). All this to say, I understand. I suspect, given the comments here and what I’m learning from reading so many blogs, is that so many of us feel the same. I’m not sure if it’s a blogging thing or a real life thing. We assume that others have a certain kind of life, when in reality we are all so very alike.

  16. I can totally relate to this post. I just didn’t realize that there were so many others out there that can relate as well.

    I was married at 22 and a mom at 24. That was average for an Army wife. But once out of the military I discovered that most of the parents of the my children’s friends were 10 years older than me. My kids are in high school and I still feel out of place.

  17. Janelle

    My question is…why does it always seem there are so many people we can relate to online (I felt as if you were writing this post about me!) but we seldom meet people we can relate to in person??? Sometimes the internet and blogs make me feel like I fit in more…I identify with many…but then it also makes me feel more lonely in real life.

  18. I never totally fit in, either. I followed pretty conventional timelines, but my own (now beloved) quirks made me a less appealing companion back in the days when my peers wanted only friends who fit a certain mold.

  19. Mckenzie

    Wow. I can compeltely relate to this, though in different ways. (Well, except the high school one – - I can totally relate to that one as it stands.) Great post, Jane.

  20. I feel the same way! I was straight-edge, which set me apart in high school and college. I’m the first of my college friends to get married, to have children. The moms at Evan’s school are all older than me by a bit. My husband is nine years older than me, and so are his friends. I’ve always danced to a different drum. It’s nice to know why I feel so connected with you ;-)

  21. Wow. Thank you, everyone, for continuing this conversation. It’s so interesting to me that this post has struck a chord with so many. In reference to Janelle’s comment – I think that maybe we’re able to find so many more people to relate to over blogging because 1) we’re coming into contact with “so many more people” 2) sometimes we’re more honest, or in other cases more guarded and less offensive, than we are in real life when it comes to our writing and 3) we ‘re not seeing the whole person (warts and all) with a blog. A few minutes contact and then poof, we’re off to the next online friend.

    That said, I’m with angelcel. I wish we all lived closer, too. Especially to all of you. But then, we DO live closer, in a way – with our blogs. I can reach out to any of you, either privately with email or publicly here with just a few taps on the keyboard.

    Now THAT is somethin’!

  22. I was never “part of it.” I was the odd one out and minded, but not much. I grew up, had a kid on the late side of life, married a man who was one of 7, started becoming involved in my kids education and was the inside of everything. My introverted self was screaming Stop but I was high on Go. After our last school fund raiser, I did stop for awhile, and then Joe died. When your spouse suddenly dies and you are as involved in a community as we were..your popular rating goes through the roof. Everyone but everyone shows up.
    I was a part of everything and pull every which way. It was/is hard work being a part of things. It comes with the responsibility of being nice a lot of the time, making sure no one’s feelings get hurt. Returning phone calls you don’t want to return. One of the nice things about blogging is I feel somewhat anonymous. I don’t feel responsible for being a part and I’m a long way from popular.
    I can imagine being older with young children could make you feel out of sync..I don’t have the answer and I’m not sure I can recommend it but consider chairing a school auction :-)

  23. Out of synce is so right. I was 40 when I had my last child. I would be at the birth-to-three program feeling ancient because the moms were all in their 20s. Then at my 13-year-old soccer games, I was sort of near normal although not financially. Do we ever feel as if we fit in?

  24. Hey, you know what group/club you belong to? The Cool Kids Club. Maybe a few years too late, but you are here now.

    I don’t want to say I know how you feel because everyone of us went through different things. I remember the loneliness, the not-belong, odd-woman-out-ness. I think I still encounter it, I may not notice it as much now that I am old enough to be holding a glass with vodka in it. During the day at school functions? I just imagine all the big-haired ladies BEFORE they brush and blow-dry their hair.

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