Just let yourself fit in.

This is one of those more introspective posts.

I’ve been reading The French Lieutenant’s Woman. The setting is Victorian England. Anyway, there’s a scene where Sarah, the epononymous character, reveals that she slept with the French Lieutenant and why:

She was a governess for two children whose mother was her own age. She liked the woman, liked the children, but every day she was reminded that she would never be able to have what that woman had–a home, a husband, children, respectability. She was too poor to marry someone with money, and too educated to marry someone who was poor.

The French Lieutenant flirted with her while he was recuperating from a wound, and invited her to meet him in another town. He hinted that he’d marry her. When she found him, she realized in a flash that 1) he’d never marry her, and 2) good thing, too. She slept with him anyway.

Why? She knew she’d always be an outcast no matter what she did, but she’d have to live by the rules if she didn’t want other people to think she was an outcast. She slept with the French Lieutenant in order to take away the illusion. It didn’t really work, but that’s another part of the story.

When I read it, it was like a piece of the puzzle clicked. In school I was the ugly duckling. In Chamberlain, my parents were farmers and we were poor. I was shy and smart and lonely most of the time. In Flandreau, my parents were newcomers in a small town that respected tradition over pretty much everything else. I was still shy and smart and lonely most of the time.

Then I got contacts and had my senior pictures taken. All of a sudden, I had a boyfriend; people I’d had crushes on followed me around. People literally opened doors for me. Aha! There’s something beautiful to be had and seen. But I was still shy and smart and lonely most of the time, only it was worse, becuase I had to pretend that I wasn’t any of those things.

I went to college. I quit wearing contacts most of the time. I stomped around whenever people offered to hold doors for me. I wore whatever I wanted — I had a bright striped gauze skirt that would spin up to my waist. I hung up on a guy who just wanted a date. I was still shy and smart and lonely most of the time, but it didn’t hurt. And the people I knew were people I wanted to know, people who wanted to know me not just because I was another outcast.

Ay, one day a ‘friend’ of mine asked me why I didn’t let myself be beautiful. I couldn’t explain it, but I hated her for asking. It makes more sense now. I didn’t want to lie anymore. It didn’t end up being a final solution, but that’s another part of the story.