Gotta Be Me

I went to a party last year hosted by a new friend, someone I didn't know too well but who was interesting and (I guessed) had interesting friends. When I got to the party, I realized that I was at least five years older than just about everyone there. Most of them were single and just getting started in their careers. They were really fun people--lots of musicians and other creative types--but they weren't really my people. To be specific, I was pretty sure none of them had kids.

And so, in order to try and fit in, I didn't mention my kids the whole night.

I had a good time, but as I left the party, I had the distinct feeling that I hadn't been honest with the people I met at the party. I didn't lie to them; it's not like someone asked me point-blank, "Do you have kids?" and I denied it. But I never shared with these potential new friends "the biggest role of my life," as it says at the top of the blog.

I learned that night that I can't make friends without talking about my kids.

Since that night, when meeting new people, I make sure to establish myself as a single dad at some point in the conversation. Some people don't quite know what to make of that, and some people look at me like I've suddenly sprouted a third eye. But if I don't share that part of my identity, I'm really not sharing at all. How can I connect with people if I hide so much of myself?

I'm reminded of a song I heard on Spare the Rock. It's by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, and it's called "Gotta Be Me."

Check out these lyrics:

there’s a lot of colors
and ways to be
but I can’t be them, nope
I gotta be me

I love that my girls love this song. Hip hop (or, as 23 Skidoo calls it, "kid hop") isn't my thing, but the message of this song is one I want my girls to hear. Hannah's already in a social world where it's cool to like the same things everyone else likes. And even Lily has talked about wanting to wear dresses to preschool because that's what the other girls do.

I know that the pressure to conform will just increase for them over time, but I want my girls to be free to be themselves. And to teach them that, I need to be free to be myself. Even if that means some people think I'm weird.

if they call you weird
and you want them to stop
you can either say
“no I’m not!”
or you can say
“yep I’m as weird as can be
and you know what?
I love it
I gotta be me!”

I gotta be me.

Image: "be you," Len Matthews, Flickr (CC)

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