Relating To “The Ugly Duckling,” Especially Today!

Living your truth does not make you popular sometimes. My parents raised me to be true to myself, be kind and considerate and own my mistakes. Now, when I was a kid, we didn’t have the Internet and while I know it’s still difficult to “be different,” or be seen as different by peers, it would have been a whole lot easier for me had I known there were so many like-minded people on this Earth when I was in school. Quite early on, I believed a lot of things and behaved in a lot of ways that were criticized and judged because they went against the grain or weren’t the norm. I wasn’t trying to be contrary. Believe me, I wanted to fit in as much or more than most. I must have just questioned more or asked more “what ifs.” Much of the credit goes to my parents who never – and I mean never – pressured me in my choices. Thankfully for all of us I didn’t choose a life of shooting heroin or some illegal business, so I give them credit for my lack of addictions, good genes and a whole lot of common sense, too!

I got called all kinds of names for those choices, too. I have been called selfish for not having babies. Now, I knew early I would not have children because I learned about the impact of the human population on our land, forests, natural resources, the air and water conditions. I could never have a child. It would go against my deepest, moral beliefs. I never dated a man who didn’t want babies so I never got married. I got called a lesbian – a lot! Now, I can also do my own home repairs and construction (frankly when you don’t have a husband, it’s all on you!) so I can see why some small-minded people might think that. I don’t care. Being gay isn’t a choice or a hurtful term, Except these remarks were intended to insult. And I became the outsider to my married with children friends. Their choice, again. That’s OK. If they didn’t think they had enough in common with me. they were probably right. But I was like the ugly duckling in the fairy tale. I often felt like I hatched in the wrong egg batch, especially growing up in the Midwest, where that northern European, keep your nose down and blend in culture commonly frowns upon the different. And I know my gay friends had it worse, except before it was legal for same-sex couples to marry, people didn’t call them out for denying why “God put them on Earth.”

In Mad Men days, I’d be a barren, old maid spinster. Can you imagine that? HappyMaybe I still get called that behind my back. Maybe some think I am lonely. Um, not a chance. I happen to absolutely adore myself. I am hilarious, hard-working and wake up happy to have feet to dance through the day.

Today people are freer to live their truths, make personal choices that are right for them so terms like spinster have virtually vanished. But call me prophetic, I believe a whole lot of misogynistic terms will soon flourish with our first viable, female presidential candidate. Need I remind you how the racism oozed forth when Barack Obama first ran? Heck, I wore his button and got vile stares and slurs. i can hardly wait to see what they say to my Clinton button!

Many, perhaps most, follow their parents’ footsteps, either because it is just “what you do,” without giving it much thought or it’s what they believe is right for thoughtful reasons. Some choose different paths that align with their faith and become rabbis, ministers or nuns. (I did not become a nun!) And now that we have a worldwide web of human connections, we are less alone with our choices. I still relate to being the ugly duckling and, like the swan, I’ve led myself on the truest path I currently know to work to become my true self. I found other ugly ducklings all around the world who live and think like I do. I am glad today’s children are accepted when they make the same moral choices I made. I will be your support.

But this is really all about morality. We all need to put our heads on that pillow each night feeling we’ve done our best as we see it. So I’m single, child-free, debt-free, degreed – oh and vegan! But trust, no one leaves my dinner table without good conversation, laughter and a satisfied belly. And I sleep well.


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