When you meet someone for the first time, how do you introduce yourself? Obviously you share your name, but what other pieces of information do you share?
Think about it for a moment...
I think it depends on the circumstances of the meeting, but I find the same details are usually shared during introductions. People share their marital status and the number of children they have. Often they also add where they live, and their occupation. Would you agree that these things are typically shared during an introduction?
Why? This has been bothering me for awhile and I am wondering why this is the way we begin interactions. If you're wondering why I've noticed it, it's because when I introduce myself and say that I'm single with no children, I'm already a failure in the eyes of many. If you're about to say, "Michelle, you're not a failure." Well, I'm different...other, and that makes people feel uncomfortable, which in turn makes me feel uncomfortable.
I struggle with how to handle it. I usually don't share my marital status or lack of children, but then I'm asked and I have to say the words. "I'm not married." or "No, I don't have any kids." and both of these statements feel like I'm less than. I wonder why we share who we are in relation to others. "I'm ______'s mother." or "I'm _______'s wife." Who are you outside of that?
I know. We say these things to make connections. I get it...but can't we connect through any other means? What if I introduced myself like this, "My name's Michelle. I collect fancy pens and I love cucumbers."
I just joined a closed Facebook group and I am the only single, non-parent in the group. I don't want anyone's pity. I want to connect like everyone else, yet I'm stopped at introductions. Right at the start, I'm different and that can be tough to take.
Here are some things that people have said to me when I tell them that I'm single and a nonparent...
"It's not too late."
"Oh, I'm sorry."
"Oh, how come?"
Awkward smiles are sometimes the only reply and most often, those people find a way to leave quickly. When did we separate ourselves into marrieds vs. singles or parents vs. non-parents?
Let's find other ways to connect. Let's be creative. Let's be open to spending time with people who have different experiences than us.
"Hi. I'm Michelle. I love pillows with inspirational sayings on them and twinkle lights make me happy. And you are?"