In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Snapshot Stories.”
On flicking through my online photos the first one I came across with me in it dates back to my early twenties – I think it is probably from 2004. It’s a photo from my first Christmas ‘do’ at a new job. I am in a club with four of my work friends – it’s late on in the evening and drinks have been flowing since about lunchtime. As a result most of us look extremely ‘merry’; one of us looks practically comatose (not me thank goodness). Everyone has their arms around each other and we are all pulling ridiculous faces for the camera (I blame the drink!).
What strikes me about this picture is that to someone who doesn’t know me you would think I was having a great time – I am in the thick of it and grinning like my life depends on it. In reality that night, like many others I had in my twenties, was not as enjoyable as pictures would have you believe.
I’ll say it – I am not a big fan of nightclubs – I don’t like the loud music that you have to yell to be heard over, or the sub-conscious pressure to be ‘cool’ (as an aside anyone who has ever met me knows that the one word that should never be used to describe me is ‘cool’ – it just doesn’t fit). I like places where you can actually have a conversation with someone – where you don’t have to strain to hear someone over a thumping beat.
I am not a massive fan of drinking either – mainly because I’m a lightweight but also because I am not big on losing control. As a result an evening involving alcohol and nightclubs is not exactly my idea of fun.
This was something I always knew about myself but as an awkward and self-conscious twenty-something I forced myself to do things I didn’t enjoy to fit in. All my friends at that time lived for the weekend – for getting wasted and doing stupid things, and I felt that not wanting to go out clubbing etc. meant I wasn’t normal. It’s ridiculous looking back on it now of course. I don’t think there is any such thing as ‘normal’ – how can there be with so many people in the world?
Looking at this photo frustrates me – I am annoyed at how desperately I tried to be one of the crowd, by how much I wanted to belong. I spent a long time as a square peg trying to fit in to a round hole, and making myself miserable because no matter how hard I tried I just didn’t fit. It’s only now, in my thirties, that I feel more at ease with myself. Rather than change myself to fit in with others I have discovered people out there who are of a similar mind set to me, enjoy the same things and who don’t want or expect me to be anything other than what I am.
Nowadays when I see a photo of me grinning like a Cheshire cat I know that the picture isn’t hiding the truth. I’m grinning like that because I’m the cat that got the cream – I’m having a great time and am accepted for who I am by a crowd. It just turns out that it’s a different crowd to the one I thought I should fit with.
Sorry but I won’t post the photo because it doesn’t seem fair on the drunk friends in it with me (as you can probably tell from the description above it is not a flattering photo). So to make up for that here’s one of my cat who looks practically comatose too!