My therapist today did that thing where someone says, “You have to view yourself as unique” when what they mean is, “You think you’re a special snowflake, don’t you?” Oh boy.
To give more explanation: this came up in context of talking about my whiny sensitivity around the fact that I spend more hours than average researching educational theories and parenting strategies.
My therapist wanted it to be about me thinking I’m a special snowflake.
No… I’m an educator. How much time I spend is not unique. It is just… associated with a profession I am no longer engaged in.
I’m being vague on purpose because I don’t want to explain something that happened. Just go with me here.
If Michael Pollan were to throw a party and say in an attempt to be humorously disparaging, “I probably spend too much time thinking about food” and someone responded with, “Everyone thinks about food.” Would that feel like an invitation to have a conversation or like an attempt to shut down?
It’s not that how much Michael Pollan thinks about food is unique; it isn’t unique. But it is unusual.
Does that make Michael Pollan actually better than everyone else who thinks about food that much? Uhhh… what is the metric here? How are we judging? What are we judging? What does that question, that better even mean?
I think I finally got my shrink to understand because she pivoted to a story: she knew a couple where the wife spent many years depressed and feeling pointless. Then her husband retired and started to really see what she did with her time. He said, “You aren’t a house wife. You are a property manager” because she had bought three rental properties during the course of their relationship and she dealt with all of that. Apparently she felt better about herself after her husband labeled her work in this way.
I had this thought as I was driving home. I want to be an integral part of a story. I don’t want to be a cog in a machine. Kinda like how Steve Jobs is not “part of Apple” he is the reason Apple exists. Only I don’t want to start a company. That’s not what I’m driven to do this lifetime.
I want to go research sexual violence and I don’t want to do it while I have little kids. I really really really don’t. I don’t think that is safe for my kids.
When I get pissy about feeling dismissed I don’t think it is because I’m such a unique special snowflake who should receive genuflection, but it’s more that I desperately want a small cast of characters in my life who see me as being valuable and knowledgable. I’m not the most special person ever. But I’m really important to a few people.
I don’t want to break the internet. I want a few people in my life who love me and believe that they genuinely could not be as cool if they did not know me. I want to help a few people be in less pain than they would have been without me.
I think that’s an ok goal.
I feel like part of my angsty shit around this is that I want to be recognized for what I’ve done. I’m not “just a stay at home mom”. I am a professional educator. I have put an enormous amount of energy into being this and knowing what I know. I’m a sensitive and whiny baby around feeling like that isn’t respected.
Which doesn’t mean I think I’m unique.
But it means I feel unseen in that moment. I feel like what I’ve done is not serving this person so they are discounting it and I am not actually what I think I am.
I know that my sense of self needs to be less permeable. I pathetically proffer before you evidence that my sense of self is more secure than it used to be.
I need to feel myself reflected back in order to feel like I get to exist. This is bad because I can’t let someone not seeing me as something deter my from my goals.
I need to stop pausing, even for a minute.
I am an educator. That’s just an accurate description of how I move through the world. I do that. Even if I’m not getting paid… a great many teachers throughout history weren’t paid in cash. So what?
I didn’t fire my shrink because we spent a while talking about what I want from her and what I never want to discuss again and she agreed that the boundaries sound good.
Keep plugging away on being less crazy.