December 14, 2011

Who the hell are you???

‘Who the hell are you?’ I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that phrase over the past few years as people get to know me a little better and realize I’m not the person they thought I was. Apparently I don’t exactly fit into any mold. I’m quite painfully aware of that (maybe my past few posts have clued you in), but it still makes me laugh when someone clues into the fact that not everything is as it appears.

We all grow up hearing the phrase, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ Great in theory, but much harder in practice. In the very literal sense, I have to say that if the cover of the book bores me I’m sure as hell not going to take it home to read. Admittedly though, I tend to place a judgment of sorts on people as well. Or rather, an assumption? If I see someone in a suit my mind jumps to professional. If I see someone with tattoos and multiple piercings I tend to think liberal. I do it, and I know I’m not the only one. I think it’s pretty much human nature to make at least some preliminary conclusions based on the limited information that we have. It’s what a first impression is all about. And in many situations it’s important to be able to make at least some sort of judgment based on a first impression…think job interview. But a first impression doesn’t do squat to show what’s underneath. Therein lies my problem…

I have a certain ‘look’, which doesn’t always correspond with who I am. For the first, oh, 30 years of my life I took everyone’s assumptions of me and ran with them. By all means, I appear conservative, preppy, conservative…have I mentioned conservative? It’s not til recently that that’s bothered me. That’s not who I am. I can be very professional and I most definitely want to give off that impression in the right time and place, but I have other sides too. At work a while back I made some comment to one of our cashiers about being annoyed by the kids running through our store. She looked at me confused and said something to the effect of, ‘Don’t you like kids?...I always thought you were the mommy type.’ ‘Oh dear God, NO,’ is what came out of my mouth next, and she looked at me in complete shock…or horror…or something. I found her reaction so hilarious that I had to go share it with my boss, who knows me pretty well now, and whom I knew would get a good laugh. Her response was, ‘Well yeah, you look like the fucking relief society president!’ Ouch! God I love her bluntness. We laughed…because it’s true. We work in a predominantly Mormon area. We may very well be the only two non-LDS members in our workplace. We’ve bonded over that! But while she doesn’t really look the part, I do. I feel like I need to add a few visible tattoos, or dye my hair…or something.

I can (and do) laugh about the first (and second and third) impressions people get of me. If it’s not something directly related to work, more often than not they’re wrong. It’s kind of humorous in many respects. But at the same time, it’s hard. It’s hard because I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. Yeah, I look conservative. But I’m not. I actually thought moving to Utah would be easy for me because I ‘look’ like I belong here. I thought I’d finally fit in somewhere. The trouble with that is, because I look the part people assume I have a certain belief system - a belief system that does not at all align with my own. I am a liberal, and yet when out with my very liberal friends I stick out like a sore thumb because I don’t look the part. I want to go out for drinks with friends, but I don’t drink (yeah, I’m still kinda terrified of alcohol calories & of not being in complete control). I’ve gone to bars with friends on multiple occasions, and I’ve gone to plenty of parties, but it’s awkward to be the only one not drinking. I love the drum circles I’ve been to, but I don’t exactly look the part there either. I’m the type A, OCD freak looking longingly at the men and women with dread locks dancing freely in front of me.

For whatever reason, a good portion of my newly acquired friends are gay or lesbian. Maybe I feel like I fit in with them because my life experiences and lack of sexuality doesn't exactly fit the norm either. I feel like I fit in with them better than with most people, but I can’t 100% relate to their experiences either.

It’s so easy for me to retreat into my own little world of calories and spreadsheets when I feel like I don’t belong. It’s so easy for me to want to isolate and disappear altogether rather than dealing with feeling like I’m so far from ever fitting in anywhere. Bits and pieces of me fit into various places, but I feel like as a whole I’m always going to be that person that shocks everyone and leaves them asking the question, ‘who the hell are you?’

So who am I? I’m the girl who has never ever given herself a moment of down time…I was a dancer, a competitive jump roper, a girl scout for twelve years, and a music nerd to the extreme. I have a BS in Interior Design, but have never done interior design. I have a Master’s in Counseling Psychology but have hardly used it. I worked in a physical therapy office, then engineering firms, then had an architectural design business. I’ve rarely ever worked less than 80 hours/week. I started a dietetics degree but can’t seem to find the money to finish it. I come across as shy in social situations but HATE the word shy, and am very much the opposite of shy when it comes to work. I have somehow ended up as the inventory/presentation manager in a pet store. I live alone. I do most things alone. I’ve never had a boyfriend, nor do I want one. I’m okay with that - sometimes. My idea of fun is making spreadsheets and going to the library. I am a perfectionist. And that is an understatement. I’ve lived in California, Texas, and Utah. I’ve spent years of my life in treatment centers and hospitals. I have awesome communication skills at work but have no idea how to act or what to do with myself outside of work. You wouldn’t know by looking at me or my activities, but I.AM.NOT.CONSERVATIVE. I’m pretty hardened, and sarcastic, and when you come to me at work complaining about how your boyfriend kissed you but then hasn’t texted you I’ll act compassionate but will likely be thinking I don’t give a shit – suck it up and do your job (because I cannot relate…at all). I can be funny at times. I’ve had an eating disorder since the age of 9, but I know very well that my thoughts are illogical and ridiculous…and that frustrates the hell out of me. Most of the things I want or don’t want seem to contradict each other. I have walls of steel built around me – very few people get through. I don’t want to need anyone or anything, but I do, and that scares me. I look like Molly Mormon.

People who don’t know better assume I came to Utah to find myself a nice Mormon husband to settle down with so I can start popping out kids and have a big happy family. They’re wrong. So very very wrong on so many different levels. But ‘I came here for treatment and then decided to stay’ is kind of an awkward conversation, so unless it’s someone I’m trying to get to know on a more personal level, I tend to go with whatever they want to think. And sometimes I get to throw in a comment or two that really throws them for a loop!

I will leave you with a video that I found on my friend Jen's facebook page & blog earlier today because I am in love with it! I love the music and harmonies, and I love the message