Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Crowd Not Followed

An interesting post over at Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters made me think last night. Mel compared infertility to being Jewish. Infertiles know they're in the minority, and often have to deal with the full-on-ness of fertiles who gush about their kids, who presume to understand what infertility is all about. Jews who deal with the relentlessness of Christmas can feel the same way: everyone is celebrating a holiday that frankly has nothing to do with them.

I can relate to both concepts.

And then I started to think about other ways I've felt outside the norm:

Being a longtime type 1 and having to test my blood sugar, or go refill my insulin pump, right in the middle of a fun meal out.

Needing to go to the doctor's office way.Way.WAY more than most of my pregnant (non-D) friends because of my assorted health issues.

Not just being diabetic, but having to deal with an odd abdomninal tumor a few years back when the C word was bandied around. Thankfully, my avocado-sized lump has never returned, but it definitely generated a WTF?! expression every time I told someone new about it.

Having to deal with laser surgery when most of the people I read on the OC seem to be more shorter-term diabetics, or haven't had the complications pop up in the same way.

At work, being one of the few people who live out in the suburbs, away from the coolness of the city, and having a husband and friends I'd rather see on my after-work time than socialize with younger coworkers, who are often not in the same place in their lives as I am. (And therefore, we don't relate all that much to each other).

At home, having a bunch of suburban mom friends, most of whom work, but all who have been moms for awhile now. Until I got pregnant and came out about it, I sat through many conversations about children, about day care, about breastfeeding, where I simply had nothing to say.

Heck, even being nominated for one of the OC awards has made me feel this way. Compared to some of the other bloggers nominated, I don't have the traffic, the comments, or even the time to post as often as some do. In a way, I feel like the indie actress who was nominated for her art-house film going up against high-traffic big studio bloggers. I'm Parker Posey up against the Reese Witherspoons and Julia Robertses of the d-blogging world.

But the truth is, I'd like to think I can revel in my other-ness and enjoy it for what it is. While the annoyance of being different from the crowd has its place, so too does the coolness factor of being different and proud.

Being diabetic for so long means I am used to having my body not work the way it is supposed to, so my bout with infertility, as frustrating and trying as it was, didn't shock me the way I've seen other infertiles write about. I am just supremely thankful that IVF actually worked for me, and pray that it will again in the future. I'm also incredibly grateful I live today, and not ten or twenty or 100 years ago, when insulin pumps or even insulin, as limited as they are, didn't exist.

I have decent doctors who actually find me funny and entertaining and "clinically interesting" so that I can relate to the care they give me, and run with it instead of blindly rely on a doctor to be the person who will save me from it all.

And again, dealing with a potential cancer meant I knew what resources to call on when I got a second opinion. In a high-volume cancer center in another city. And I had the strength and feisty-ness not to be afraid about (yet another) surgery, but instead to face the experience head-on with a kick-ass attitude about it. The email I sent out to my friends and family the day before the surgery was probably one of the best things I ever wrote. And after the surgery, when I was able to walk slowly down the hall and find a computer in the hospital where I could check my email daily, I was able to read dozens of emails each day from people wishing me well and making me laugh. Having visitors that week come and tell me how awesome I looked after abdominal surgery just made me feel stronger. And while I haven't written about this in full before, should any of you ever find yourself in similar shoes, email me about my experiences at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. As much as dealing with a cancer experience sucked, my time there was about as positive as it could have been, and for that I am grateful.

Even working where I do and living where I do, though it's made me feel unlike the crowd many times, still has its benefits. I have a cool-sounding job that seems to impress other people, which childishly gives me a charge even though the downsides of holding that job are long hours and get-rich-never wages. Living in the suburbs gives us the space and quiet and yard that my city-dwelling friends seem to covet, even as I dream about walking the streets of New York and getting more exercise and culture than my suburban ass ever gets anymore.

And even Parker Posey, with her hipster vibe, appeals to me more than Julia Roberts (though I've always liked Reese Witherspoon.) The off-center films, the ones that show in the independent theater on the artsy side of town, always resonated with me more than the big-budget films, with their huge sets and giant opening nights and the endless media coverage. They seem realer, more honest, and somehow more authentic to me than yet another film sequel.

I guess that's what I'm taking away from this (yowza!) long post about infertility and Judaism and pregnancy and working and assorted health issues. Being different lends itself to honesty and being authentic.

And sometimes it just means you do things in the way that's best for you, despite following a path that the crowd doesn't always follow.


Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kevin said...

Great post.

I've never thought about how diabetes has made me different and how that may affect my taste in things and my fondness for "non-mainstream" books, music, art, and movies.

And while I'm sure there's something to it, I'm sure there's also a little bit of this desire to flex our uniqueness in everyone.

There's a strange tension between wanting to be different and also wanting to connect with others who are the same.

It's pretty cool, really.

Michko said...

I agree with Kevin. There is a "strange tension between wanting to be different and also wanting to connect with others who are the same." I struggle with that at work mostly. While I work in "my industry," the magazine I work for is in a trade that I knew nothing about prior to working here.

It certainly holds me back, because, as my boss told me once, some things are just visceral. Others here with a background in this trade definitely have a different connection than I do.

It's not easy being on the outside. I think I've been there almost my whole life--never was in the in crowd at school. And, like Kevin, I also have a fondness for non-mainstream, non-trendy stuff.

I don't see diabetes as making me different, though. I see it as making me special. When I tell people I have it, I am typically flooded with questions and I feel this sense of importance. Sometimes being in the minority is better.

Anonymous said...

Bravo! That post was awesome!

I have always enjoyed being different and not apart of the crowd. My father always told me to never be a follower, and to always be a leader (even if you are only leading yourself).

I feel like the indy artist too (when it comes to the OC), that is a perfect analogy.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot about being different lately. My son’s recent diagnosis has challenged me to look at different and normal in a completely different way. The first thing I dowhen people tell me my son is “different” is recoil a bit. Now, I am able to say, yes, and you are different from him. It is our uniqueness that lends us character. Thanks for sharing!

art-sweet said...

I've always also felt a little "off." I remember being told I was too serious; that I should just be a crazy college kid. When Pili got angry that her body wasn't working (infertility) I had a hard time relating because I assume my body won't work. In some ways, it's been a relief to be in my 30's, because people aren't as surprised by me anymore.

I really like the slant you take on it here - celebrating your uniqueness as opposed to resenting it.


Scott K. Johnson said...

Awesome post L.

I appreciate your uniqueness, and the thoughts and approaches you grace us with here.

A beautiful snowflake, each and every one of us.

Major Bedhead said...

I fee1 so freaking bana1 now. ;-)

Great post. I rea11y 1ike your attitude about a11 your differences.

Watson said...

"Being different lends itself to honesty and being authentic."

That is truly beautiful, and very touching.

I get caught up in the 'other-ness' a lot.

First it was that all of my friends got married before I did and that made me feel, absurdly, like I was falling behind. As if there was one way to grow up and be an adult and I was the only one not following the plan...

But once I finally got married and everyone started having kids, I experienced that same feeling of being excluded from the group I so desperately wanted to join.

I guess one of the lessons of IF is trying to learn not to compare ourselves to others, but that's often easier said than done.

I loved your post, and it made me give some thought to this -- so thank you!!

Anonymous said...

great post.

I have always felt "different" because of my social anxiety issues, nevermind having to wear glasses since I was 3 1/2. Being diagnosed with type 2 at a relatively young age & not being that overweight at diagnosis has made me feel different, too.

I feel better about being different than I used to - I guess that's part of maturing, huh?

Lollipop Goldstein said...

There is definitely the positive side of that uniqueness too. We pulled out all the Chanukkah stuff today (meager offerings in the closet, but hey, it's not a major holiday) and I was proud of the kids for being able to jump into "pretend celebration"--especially knowing words like "shamash." I mean, how cool is that? They celebrate in two languages :-)

Minnesota Nice said...

Great post and great comments here....ditto/ditto/ditto.

Anonymous said...

You should "always be listening to yourself", instead of the crowds of Sheeple.


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