It’s 1998, and I’m a freshman in college. While I always had great friends, I never really fit in anywhere because my interests didn’t really jive or form a cohesive personality trope. My roommate was nice but not super friendly, my hockey team would rather haze me than chit-chat, and this newly-minted extravert didn’t know where to turn her massive amounts of energy. So obviously the right move was to join a sorority, right? Surely someone there must be like me.
Everyone was introducing themselves, talking about their favorite Dave Matthews songs or who they were currently shipping on Dawson’s Creek and then it came to my turn. I had so many things to talk about! Where to begin? I just opened my mouth and rambled my glorious truth. “Hey! I’m Amanda and I love X-Files, fantasy books, Japanese food, goaltending, and don’t even get me started on the Oxford Comma!”
Crickets. For like, a full minute. One girl spoke up. “I want her on my Trivial Pursuit team.”
Awkward at first, but you know what? College was just fine – I’d get my competative side satisfied at hockey practice even though I was way out of my league playing as a backup backup goalie at a D1 school, then I’d hit up the Anime Club and get caught up on Neon Genesis Evangelion, then go to a frat party with the girls and find the one brother there who could speak elvish after five Zimas. It really wasn’t bad, in fact I look back on those years fondly, but it sort of set up a narrative that stuck with me for years: they may like you, but they’re not like you.
Years went by and something shifted a bit when I became a mom. Sometimes making friends was easy – hey I have a toddler and you have a toddler, let’s watch them crawl around together and commiserate about how much we hate Caillou! Other times, it was hard. I’d formed a number of friendships with my older children’s friends’ moms when they were in preschool, but then I had two babies later in life and I got left by the wayside because I couldn’t go out or make plans like they could.
I tried to tame my oddball passions so I could fit in and be included more. I stopped dying my hair fun colors and I kept my video game references to a minimum. I bought expensive shoes where the brand was blatantly obvious so we’d have an instant point of reference – see, I like nice things! (I also like weird things, but you can learn about that later). I started to quell the inner “LET’S CHAT ABOUT DOCTOR WHO” and…