Do you still feel as though you are “different” or that your past experiences emotionally isolate you from society?
I definitely feel the effects of my past even today. Because I was isolated from my peers in my formative years, social interaction takes a lot more concentration for me than for others. In a way, it’s kind of like I’m operating in a foreign culture with different rules about what is acceptable and offensive. Additionally, conversations in this “foreign culture” are full of cultural references and assumptions that confuse me and remind me how different I am inside. And in some ways the situation is worse than the foreign culture analogy suggests: I don’t have a “home culture” to return to. That means I’m stuck with this feeling of being slightly disconnected from society. I hope that this feeling will continue to fade with time and practice.
This is actually getting better for me. The feeling of cultural disconnection, of not fitting in, of being unable to understand my peers hasn’t completely disappeared, but it has decreased with time. So too has my fear of those who are different and my fear of being in large group or crowd situations. I still sometimes feel like I don’t know what to say in a situation, or how to act, and I still sometimes feel extremely awkward and out of place, but I now have hope that those feelings will go away with time as well. Maybe in another ten or fifteen years I won’t feel like I’m different at all.
Yes, a lot. I can’t really explain. I learned to camouflage myself as “one of them“, but I still feel an outsider. I feel like people look at me and they can tell I’m somehow different. A lot of times, people can’t understand my reactions to certain things. Only my close friends know about it and try to help me when I get into weird situations.
I think I’ve caught up and adjusted all right, thanks to a thorough pop culture education from my fantastically patient friends at college, and my husband’s great sense of humor. My coworkers are occasionally weirded out by the random information I know, but I don’t think I come across as homeschooled anymore.
Yes. I definitely feel different. I can hardly mention anything from my childhood without getting strange looks, whether it is number of siblings or the fact that I wasn’t allowed to go to college. I don’t have movies or songs I liked at different stages of my life, I didn’t go to school. I didn’t date, I didn’t have friends. Much of what people talk about doesn’t apply to me.
I think my LACK of experiences is what isolates me from society. I do not have “highschool friends.” I have never crossed a stage in cap and gown. I didn’t watch “Thunder Cats” or “Full House” like my peers did. I didn’t play video games or eat Fruit by the Foot or listen to the Backstreet Boys. I have no ties to the culture of my childhood, and that often leaves me alone and left out. It seems silly that such unimportant things would make such a big difference, but it’s amazing how many times I have been unable to participate in a conversation with my peers because I have no idea what they are talking about.
I feel like I’ve finally achieved normalcy. I don’t feel slighted or deficient for my upbringing. I’m grateful for what I learned and trying to use it by speaking out and by incorporating my understanding of religion in my academic work. I feel totally integrated in society now, and I’m having a ton of fun doing all the things I could never do: blaring rock music, wearing bikinis, playing with makeup, driving my own car to my own job, and studying and speaking what I think. I love being a teacher, too, because it’s so nice to express my thoughts and cultivate a respectful discussion where I can advise younger people and hear their thoughts.
Oh yes. Very few people can relate to the things I still struggle with almost daily, and it’s hard to try and make them understand without seeming to villianize my family, which generally brings me pain rather than making me feel better. It’s hard to let new people I meet really get to know me for these reasons. I hope that as time passes and life takes on new shapes, I won’t feel so much defined by my past and making connections will be easier.