There are a few people who make me feel like I’m not quite cool enough; and I have been trying, desperately, to work out whether the problem is them – or me.
At 30, I should be beyond these schoolgirl considerations. They smack of whispering at the back of classrooms and popularity ratings and things that you would have hoped I’d grown out of…only the hurt is still as sharp and the insecurity, as gnawing.
It is frustrating that, whilst they’re getting on with life, I am still struggling to wrestle back a little self respect and reassure myself that their opinion is not the only thing that counts.
I manage – for a while – to justify the exclusion and move on from the rejection; and then, they cross my path again – and I’m back to where I started. Feeling judged – and not quite making the mark. Being left out – but then inclusion isn’t obligatory. A subtle patronisation – but nothing that I can put my finger on.
Anger, hurt, indignation – then the crumbling acknowledgement that maybe they are right.
The dilemma comes from the fact that these feelings are mine, not theirs; the response, belonging to me – and their opinion, what they’re entitled to.
When I was younger, I would have tried, immediately, to change myself or sought, desperately, to win their approval; but this only serves to confirm the inadequacy. I have spent enough time punishing myself for somehow being “wrong”.
When I didn’t know myself so well, I would have denied the feeling or jumped, automatically, into the anger and the injustice of it all; but anger is a double-edged sword and the perpetrator feels the wounds as sharply as the victim.
If I was braver, I might have a conversation – but the point is illusive, shrouded in feelings and not words.
If I didn’t care so much, I might walk away from the situation – but the connections are inter-twined and entangled, and the lack of resolution would remain – until the next meeting.
If I was more sharp nosed, I would rise above the comments, or the stirrings of hurt, and remind myself that one person’s opinion is just that –
But, until I reach that point, the best I can do is remember, when I am going about my life, that it hurts (if you talk down to people’s experience); and it is painful (to exclude with no explanation); and it is unkind (to pass judgement, when we’re all just equal) –
And returning the hurt, however tempting, would just make me the same.