I have struggled with other people’s assumptions my entire life.
I remember being in the principal’s office at the public school we were zoned for when we lived in the country, and her leaning in and asking me “Are you an only child?”
I was in her office because a boy had run up to me and grabbed me between my legs when our Spanish teacher was out of the room. I was so embarrassed — it had been a dare, I think, from the way his friends were laughing — and would never have spoken a word about it to our teacher. But my friend was appalled and dragged me to the principal and now there I was, sitting in front of her, mortified and sweating and wishing I wouldn’t have let my friend shove me into her office.
“Are you an only child?” She asked me again.
“Well, that explains it. You’re probably spoiled.”
The number of siblings I did or did not have had nothing to do with the fact that I was minding my own business, sitting on a windowsill talking about whatever 5th grade girls talk about, when someone shoved his hand in a place it never should have gone. But I was a white girl who was dressed nicely and got good grades, and now it was out that I was also an only child too, with parents who worked in the city.
HOW DARE I.
This is when my shame began: the apologetic feeling. The I’m sorry for being who I am. The let me work really hard to make you feel okay about dealing with me.
I have spent almost my entire life dealing with a compulsive need to prove to others that I’m not an airhead because I smile a lot. I’M JUST A HAPPY PERSON, DAMN IT.
I have worked tirelessly for far too long to prove that I’m not bitchy because I’m a confident woman, that I’m not racist because I happen to be white, that I’m not closed-minded because I was raised in a Conservative Christian bubble, and that I’m not judgy because my house is clean.
I’ve spent my life feeling afraid of offending others with my presence, even when they were the ones offending me.
Fuck. That. Noise.
I don’t want to apologize anymore and I don’t feel like I have to, because I have experienced the elation of being immersed in a situation where everyone is just as screwed up and weird and talented as I am and it was AMAZING. It was such a moving experience to go to the Blog U Conference last weekend and feel completely accepted into a group of people who are not at all like me, but yet somehow completely like me.
We swept the Notre Dame of Maryland University campus with a quirky, maladjusted wave of awesomeness. The nuns probably all rolled over in their graves or crossed their chests or something.
I can’t wait to go back.
Somehow these people who I have never met in real life know and understand me better than people who have known me for 35 years. I don’t know how or why and I don’t understand any of it, but apparently this is what it feels like when you find your people.
This is what it feels like to not have to explain or apologize for being yourself.
This is what it feels like to be seen.
I never would have had this experience without the support of my amazing husband, who raised the funds for me to go, and without the support of my bomb ass friends and family who keep pushing me, reading my work, encouraging me and telling me I need to shut up and stop apologizing for the love of holy hot dog buns.
Go find your people.
It is so, so worth the wait.