Photo: I’m not even sure what kind of duck this is (the rest are definitely mallards). Based on my research I believe it may be a “manky mallad” of some sort but I am not certain. Still, odd duck – even more fitting! Photo shot and edited by me. Reifel bird sanctuary, Summer 2012.
I have always felt like the odd duck out. The odd coloured one. The one that people had a strange fascination towards but still never befriended me. The ungainly ugly little duckling that no one wanted to play with (growing up didn’t make it better either). The one who is even unsure of who one is. But still, no matter where I was or who I was, I never quite fit in. Duck. Duck. Duck. Weird duck. Duck. Duck.
For one, I am not good at math nor have a May birthday (much of my family is). I am a girl (unlike my any of cousins as a very young child). I am quite literate and occasionally artistic (my family isn’t). I like horses and of course, my family doesn’t either. When I was a child…no one really wanted to play with me. At least, not the “typical” children. Like the odd duck, I never really understand why no one wanted to play with me but I accepted it. I mean what else you do, demand people to play with you? (I may have tried it. If I did, it did not work.)
I never had really close friends or best friends (if anyone becomes my BBF….congrats, you’re the first)…all my friends were always quite light, superficial. I only had friends as a younger child. By high school, although there were a few acquaintances within classes, I had mostly become a loner. Undergrad – both my lower levels at a local college and my upper levels at a local university was a massively isolating experience. People talk about social lives in college/university, but I don’t think most understand how profoundly isolating it is when all you do is go to class and you don’t really have any social skills.
I ride horses too and I’ve been riding for a while (never said I was good at it…but I stay on most of the time). Did I make any friends there? Of course not! Even common interests cannot bring me together with a friend (even though it felt like I sucked at horses compared to everyone). I did eventually had some acquaintances when I hung out at the barn…but still never friends and it was not uncommon that they ignored me. I always felt like the tag-along…thing anyway even though I was older than them. I wished for a equine friend but that didn’t quite happen either. I guess you need the horse to do that…or better horse or friend-making skills. However, I got bullied around by a young horse ….interesting but not quite the “special relationship” I was looking for. Class divides (oh they exist so much) aside, I’m also nearly the only flat-only mostly recreational rider in a barn full of jumping show horses…things that I don’t do. Even if I did jump (and I don’t for several confusing reasons), I’ll never show at that level. It’s a sport for the privileged and I will admit that equestrian is elitist…and I am so far from that socioeconomic class, it’s not even funny. That would likely never be a part of my world. Oh yes, the inferiority complex is alive and well (not as bad as it has been though).
I never had pets as my family is not into animals so I had relatively limited exposure to them. I rarely had any close friends. I was always the odd duck out, alone. Whereas it got better for the ugly duckling, it got worse for me as I got older. I did not become a swan, instead I became more isolated, odder. The one that people ask if I’m okay or lost as I wander out, or stare out into space, mind lost in thoughts. Eventually, I would be the one that people may be slightly fascinated in (at least during high school) but remain distanced. As if I was wearing different feathers, a different pattern than the other ducks that everyone looks at but find it’s too different for them. I stand aside, never fully included and never fully belonging.
I go to school but I am isolated, distanced even though we are all in the same place. It’s as if I occupy a different dimension than everyone else, momentary disseminating and reappearing randomly. Sometimes we see each other, but we hardly ever interact. The two dimensions rarely “Integration” is a misnomer. I may have gone to class with “typical” students. I may did the same academic work that everyone else does. I did “integration” periods in elementary school and was eventually fully integrated by grade 10. But again, “Integration” is a misnomer. Just because I occupy the same space as “typical” students does not make me part of their world. The rest of the ducks make friends, socialize, while I waddle off, on my own in search of my own pond. I still haven’t found it.
But I’m tired of not belonging, in nearly every space.
Yet, I don’t want to be like the other ducks.