Dear Dr. Archer,
I have yet to meet another like me, not because I think I'm something special or full of myself, but because I am now convinced, at age 43, I'm a total freak of nature. More often than not, I'm grossly misunderstood by others. I can never get away with speaking in generalizations like other folks do.
I've come to realize by being a student of human nature for as long as I have, that an individual who already has a pre-existing level of respect for another individual will, more often than not, let that other individual get by with generalizations, and it's a given that there are always exceptions to the rule.
Yet, I never get that respect from ANYONE whom I hold in high regard, show me that same grace when I try to contribute relevantly and meaningfully to a conversation. I took a personality test once that told me I'm not just in a minority, but I am a minority within a minority.
It also said that only 3 percent of the people I encounter in life will take an instant liking to me, whereas the 97 percent will either not care for me at all meeting me for the first time, or will not know how to take me.
Although I would never let a test define who I am, in taking a fearless and moral inventory of my life, there were too many incidents I found that I was able to recall that proved the test right; incidences which occurred even before I took any kind of personality test or even knew the personality test existed.
As a result, I am FED UP with this dynamic! For it's not negative, self-fulfilling prophecy, because my life was this way before a test had a chance to limit my view of myself in any way, shape or form.
I am so tired of people not seeing me for who I really am, and being singled out for ridicule, or people coming out of the woodwork feeling the need to take me to task about something, when they are perfect strangers and don't have the RIGHT to be speak about how I should be living with regard to myself or my child.
For instance, I was in a store applying tester lotion to my child when she was an infant. It was winter and her skin was chaffing, so as a preventative measure, I began working a fingertip size dollop of lotion into the affected area on her chin.
Out of nowhere this well educated collegiate woman approached me and began saying: "I can tell by the look on your daughter's face she is not enjoying what you are subjecting her to. You are disrespecting her personhood."
The way I've been rejected out of hand by others my entire life, singled out by people who don't know anything about me but just see me -- as what? An easy target? Easy prey? Someone with a mark on my forehead? I am tired of speculating! Not to mention how people who pretend to know me make me feel like I have to quantify, qualify and justify everything I say.
I can't even quote a reliable source on a given topic that comes up in the course of conversation without a person looking at me or asking, 'who told you that' or' why do you think that' or 'you're wrong' or 'that's not true' or 'it didn't say that in that book' or a thousand other variations on a theme. It's as if people feel this need to always discredit me somehow.
Is it because I'm REAL? I think it's because I'm too real for most people to handle, and that I can see people right away for what they are. They can sense that on perhaps a subconscious level or a conscious level if they are more astute or shrewd than the average Joe so to speak.
Perhaps they feel like they have to call who I am or the things I try to bring to the table conversationally into question just to feel better about themselves?
Yet, all I've ever wanted is for others to just see me as an EQUAL, for crying out loud. Yet I'm always made to feel like that's an unreasonable expectation on my part. I feel censored, censured and grossly misunderstood far more often than when someone gets me. I feel very ALONE in this world. It's even worse with the opposite sex, and this dynamic alone is killing me.
All I've ever wanted is to know is what it's like to be ass over teakettle in love with a man, and have him feel the same way about me in return. But I'm never able to evoke that feeling in a man. I've never known how to play the game with people, either. I don't play games. I am forthcoming, straightforward and honest. I am eccentric and quirky.
I am not a woman though; I am very much like a child. I feel things like a child does -- very keenly, distinctly and intensely. I am very sensitive and cry easily. You might even say at the drop of a hat. But anyone would cry easily if they'd been rejected their entire life like I have been.
The moral majority or status quo who have spent most of their life being socially well received by others -- they will NEVER KNOW what it's like to be me or how much it can hurt to be held at arm's length by others your entire life.
They will never truly understand unless they go through it themselves, but they won't because they already have it down, so to speak. I used to take it more in stride when I was young and felt like I had plenty of time to still figure out how to fix whatever was broken in me before the years started catching up to me. But now, at age 43 not being in good health, I feel like time is running out.
I don't have much time to figure it out, and I feel no closer to figuring it out now than I did when I was in my 20's. In fact, the longer I go, the more I feel at risk for decompensation because being in this predicament becomes beyond demoralizing after it has characterized your existence long enough.
You start to get a complex about it. Finally, you start to lose hope altogether that your life could ever be any different. :'(
If you are a regular reader, then you know I always urge everyone to remain true to themselves. We can never control how others act; we can only be responsible for how WE act and react. You are your unique self, and you should live your life the way you see fit. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best when he said "To be great is to be misunderstood."
Your problem lies in seeking to be accepted by the masses. Remember this: If you try to please everyone and conform to the norm, you lose your uniqueness which is the foundation for your greatness.
There has never been anyone like you, Joli, and there never will be again. You are unique and you should embrace that uniqueness. Who knows why that woman stopped you in the store with your child. That's what testers are there for; you had every right to use the tester, and you had absolutely no control over how her day was going or what was going to come out of her mouth.
The question is why would you care what she said. A defusing response would have been to smile at her pleasantly and say, "I know she doesn’t like it, but she has this dry skin problem and I wanted to see how it worked. Do you have any suggestions for dry skin?”
My advice: I see this as primarily a lack of confidence on your part. A very confident person would hear something like that, and let it go without so much as a question. It's those who are sensitive that question why they get treated as such. The more rejection occurs, the more self confidence is lost. So, how do we change that WITHOUT changing your sensitive nature?
For one, I'd like you to work on your self-confidence, not for others but for you. Check out Build Self Confidence
and start applying the 10 suggestions into your daily life. Write each one down and look at the list daily. Several times a day, if you have to! Some may come easy, some hard, but I want you to practice, practice, practice. You know what they say -- practice makes perfect.
Confidence will bring you security, and security will bring you positive emotions. People are drawn to positive people, and as you begin to think more positively your confidence will grow even more. If you use generalities, try to make sure they're positive comments said with a smile on your face.
In the final analysis, you choose your reaction to everything that happens to you, good or bad. Stop worrying about what others think, be true to yourself and speak the truth. Embrace your quirkiness, look for this quirkiness in others.
Use humor to get you through when you face a difficult confrontation. It’s not as bad as you think, your glass is truly half full. Take care.