Identity crisis

It’s minor, as crises go, but seems to promise longevity. And it’s growing worse as the days go by.

I’m a loner at heart. I don’t know that I started out that way — I was never alone my entire life until I was in my mid-teens and the only child left at home. I didn’t much like being alone back then. That was when my clinical depression started, and I’ve struggled with it ever since. As an adult, though, I’ve learned that I actually like being alone, that I crave significant amounts of alone time. Whether that’s good for me is an entirely separate matter.

I’m also very sensitive. And perhaps a little paranoid. Not about everything — I sometimes take the strangest things with a complete lack of defensiveness — but about enough that the knot in my stomach that says “I’m a loser” is an almost permanent feature of my life.

I don’t require the approval of others. But I also take things said to or about me very personally, even if I’m only really on the periphery of the topic. It’s very hard to restrain that impulse when people you like and admire are the ones who (generally completely unknowingly) are making you question yourself, making you feel like less than you really are. I don’t seek approval, but I also don’t seek disapproval — disapproval from the people who mean something to me makes the knot in my stomach grow larger, heavier, more substantial.

If you’ve read this blog, then you know I have a very eclectic set of interests. I am both skeptic and believer, scientist and mystic, logical thinker and emotional feeler. I can switch hats at any point, but all of the headgear is in my virtual closet, a part of me. I was comfortable with that, feeling that it made me better able to understand and appreciate all sides. Now, though, I feel more that it means that I have no place to feel safe, to feel like I belong. The logical skeptics think I’m a nutcase (or rather they think people who think like I do are nutcases — they may or may not have actually considered that I fall into that group). And I’m too logical to be able to completely submerge myself in the mystical, making me not quite fit into those communities either. Where are all the  no open-minded, see-all-sides, middle-of-the-roaders?

This morning, for example, I attended an organized, online chat on one of those niche topics in which I ultimately felt attacked for being somewhat different from the others. I respect the organizer of the chat as a prominent figure in the genre, but now I don’t know that I’ll go back next week. To be clear, their intention wasn’t to be mean — they were just trying to understand my take on the discussion topic (and clearly my sense of humour didn’t come through well, but that’s a topic for another post) — but it comes down to the same thing: I ended up feeling defensive (and psychoanalyzed) in a situation where I should have felt safe.

That comes on the heels of posts and comments on a number of blogs that I read regularly that, in a completely different way, made fun of other interests that I have. (Is there something in the water?) One or two occurrences would have been easy to work around. But it seems to be happening everywhere, in all aspects of my life, and I’m feeling more and more like I just don’t really belong anywhere any more.

To be clear, I’m not looking for a solution. And I’m not looking for sympathy or a validation of my worth as a human being. Somewhere inside me, I know my worth. I just don’t know my place, that place where I actually belong. I seem to be an outsider everywhere, and I hadn’t expected that, hadn’t mentally prepared myself for that.

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