As children we are encouraged to march to our own drummer. Be different! Don’t follow the herd! Be unique! Don’t be like everybody else.
As parents, we encourage our children to think outside of the box. In the case of Soleil, the box is in and entirely different room, but still, we encourage individuality in our children.
But…are people okay with being individuals?
Okay, Nance (you are saying in your head). What the hell are you talking about?
I am very unique. I am not the average person.
I am a woman who loves sports.
I don’t wear high heels and skirts much
I am not a good girly girl
I work in astronomy, but I don’t have a PhD or just a Bachelor’s degree, I have a Master’s Degree which has long been considered a failure of a PhD. (Those who fail to pass the qualifying exam get a Master’s Degree and are sent on their way.)
I am married to a Jewish man and raising Jewish children, but I am not Jewish. Hell, I think I am more atheist than anything else.
I like home decorating and home remodeling.
I like to paint my nails and get them dirty.
I am a girl Scout leader who is teaching to girls to respect the world and themselves, but to not be afraid to question and not be a sheep.
Most of the time, I enjoy being the odd ball. I work mostly with men. I was at a meeting yesterday with only one other woman about of 12 people. My team has never had another female on it and in most meetings, I am the only female.
I don’t mind lewd jokes and the only time I feel harassed is when I see blatant discrimination against women (one person at work is extremely harsh on female parents).
But yesterday, I was slammed with not fitting in. And I was terribly hurt. And it isn’t anyone’s fault, but just a rejection of me for not fitting in.
I was offered a position on the Board of Trustees at our Temple. I was very honored. I was told several people offered my name for nomination. And I thought "This is an opportunity to step up and give the interfaith families a voice!" I could express our concerns and the recent push by the Union of Reform Judaism’s push for conversion of interfaith spouses.
When this was offered, I did express concern that I am not Jewish. I have never felt that I should convert. It would be lying to convert. I am concerned about the Jewish community. I am concerned about Jewish history. My children are Jewish. They have Jewish blood in their veins, they are proud to be Jewish and they love what they are learning about their heritage.
I was told yesterday, that the offer to serve on the Board of Trustees was retracted. Only Jews may serve on that Board. I understand it. Really I do! It would be like an Italian serving a leadership role in the French-American society. I can’t pretend to be what I am not.
And to be perfectly honest? I was really hurt by this. I didn’t realize how much being myself and having a separate rhythm leaves me excluded. I can’t help bring forth my ideas, because I don’t fit in. I sometimes feel odd at "girls night out" event because I am not very girl. (There is high irony in that statement as I am writing this on a plane on the way to a women’s weekend away!) I have been called Dr. Spacemom by some people and when i correct them, they are surprised that I don’t fit what they think I am and who I am.
I will get over the hurt. I am not sure if I should fight for the right for a non-voting member of the Board of Trustees to be added for interfaith families.
So is it good to be the square peg in a world of round holes? Should we push our children to be individuals? What about the pain? Do we ever consider that?