My son is in the last part of his senior year of high school. It’s been a tough ride for him, as it was for me, as it was for many of us. It’s my observation that those kids who are born competitors thrive in high school, especially athletes. It’s almost bizarre how different an experience my daughter, who is a freshman, is already having than my son. She’s a tough competitor, always hungry for more, gifted athletically. She could play any sport, but her passion is basketball. Since she made Varsity this year, the rest of her team are upperclassmen, who’ve adopted her with great affection. She rides around with them, Snapchats and Facetimes them, works out with them. They playfully punch her in the arm in the hallways.
God, I hated kids like her when I was her age.
I tell my daughter if we were the same age, she wouldn’t even notice me. I was very quiet, extremely introverted, bookish, and serious. It amuses me to think my girl would look right through me if I was in her Biology class. She is popular. Popular kids have the luxury of not noticing other kids. It’s just the way it goes.
Whereas my daughter’s world revolves around a ball, my son’s world revolves around ideas. Storytelling in film, books, music. He has ridiculously high GPA and ACT scores, but he would never mention it. He rarely studies. He just understands things. And remembers what he learns. There is no crowd in the bleachers to cheer for that. There is no group at the cafeteria waiting to talk about ideas. I have been telling him he will find his people in college.
I had a lot of family and personal damage to undo before I could really find my people. I found a few treasures along the way, especially one of my college roommates, who is my dear friend today and has never left me, even when she no longer recognized me. I do think, given his developed interests, and the fact that he’s worked through some significant inner stuff already, that my son will find his people with relative ease next year. Pretty hard to take encouragement from Mom when there are 6 months left of feeling isolated and bored.
It really wasn’t until I started yoga 8 years ago that I found my people. I knew something was different even in my first bewildering class. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm for the practice was met with stern disapproval from my ex-husband and my parents. I think both thought I was cutting off ties to the religion I’d married into and was born into. I recall telling them yoga is not a religion (and it’s not), but they were right to be concerned, I guess. I was finding my way home, and home wasn’t where any of them lived.
I had a great talk with a fellow yogi after practice last Saturday. She was describing the experience she and her husband were going through as they became more and more serious practitioners. Friends didn’t get it. They could no longer relate to friends. Family was questioning.
It reminded me of how finding your people can simultaneously hurt and comfort. Finding a place of belonging that others don’t understand throws off the “balance,” disrupts roles people play. Those who haven’t sought out change don’t appreciate having to accommodate yours.
I earnestly hope that, as my son sets out into the post-high school world, he doesn’t hesitate to step into his space of belonging. No matter who else doesn’t understand or like what he chooses for himself, I will be cheering him on as he heads home.