Being Strong (& Exhausted)
I've never met a strong person with an easy past. We all have our demons and goals in life and how we choose to deal with life is what makes us individuals.
Your childhood replicates itself in adulthood. For me, there is a simple scenario in your mid 30s that suddenly takes you back to your youth and without warning has you wanting to cry and/or escape.
A reminder of why you accepted you didn't fit in. A reminder of the injustice in conflicting attitudes within a family. A further reminder as to how exhausting it is to defend your own beliefs and values no matter how simplistic and tolerant they may be.
You are, yet again, on the outside.
So I learnt to make light of it. To cover up how lonely it can make you feel, being singled out. Which ironically comes off as sarcasm or condescension —I've learnt to develop a thick skin! But it's the lesser of two evils and at least puts you in a position of feeling less subjected to ridicule. It's a coping mechanism, but every now and again it slips or you let your guard down and boosh, there it is again. Before you know it, you're back to being 8 again, on the outside looking in. Singled out, with no place within their clique. Their way is what they're comfortable with and nothing else. It is their way of life, their choice, what sits well with them. Likewise they too need to defend their mentality, en masse. Riddled with double standards that only protect their sense of being.
When the people who are supposed to be naturally supportive and accepting are the ones making you feel alone and segregated, herein lies the stem of a lifetime of either defensive behaviour, fear of fitting in, or developing a life elsewhere where you don't have to fight to fit in. I've found this to result in me always defending the underdog; regardless, I can't stand to see the same situation.
It's now developed into more of a "devil's advocate" stance, and I think it makes me feel empowered to no longer have to just smile and walk away. A debate, choice, acceptance, and good spirited opinion.
This is why my first response in such similar occasions is to get out of the situation. There is no mutual comprehension and therefore defending yourself is pointless. Put on a smile for as long as you can then get the hell out of dodge.
Escape to where you have like minds. In fact, no, to where people don't expect to be the same. Broader views, intelligent debate, opportunity, and cultural variety.
But although this sounds challenging, I appreciate it for what it's given me. A drive to succeed. Not to prove "I'm better" as some sort of proof that my views are "better than theirs," but more to not be singled out in the corner. To thrive, to be independent. To be socially and emotionally aware. I've acquired skills like money management, resourcefulness, and a hardworking ethic from a very young age. I learnt it gave you freedom. Do you know what? If it turned into a competition (even though I'd win!), all the better. A touch of productive anxiety can give you that edge to achieve.
I've learnt to stand up for myself, regardless of whether I should need to. It doesn't mean you need to be defensive, just prepared. But if you need to, regularly, why are you still in that situation?
Don't be a victim or be someone that you're not comfortable with. Do and be what feels right. A great line that I saw recently was:
"It's better to walk alone than with a crowd walking in the wrong direction."
Stay strong, be kind.