I’m No Carmichael.

I started writing this post as a tangent when I was trying to recap my weekend in Santa Barbara.   Now, here it is, tangent-turned-stand-alone-post of its own.

I have two main insecurities in life.   Most people think being tall is one of them, because I talk about being tall so much.  But my tallness is not one of my insecurities.  (As a side note, it drives me NUTS when my non-tall friends tell me I talk about being tall too much.  You try being in my body for a few days, head-and-shoulders above everyone, where literally everywhere you go, eyes follow you in amazement and/or disgust.  And then you see what you end up talking about most of the time ;).  Try it, really, I bet it would be a fun experiment.  Like a fat suit experiment on 20/20, but for talls.)

While tall is not one of them, my weight is one of them, because I’m already so tall and noticeable that I would rather not also be wide.  I feel like I’m taking up enough space on earth as it is 😉

The other one, and the overall point of this post, is the fact that I grew up poor.   It’s not that I am ashamed at all of my past, but law school and my ensuing career has sort of propelled me into all of these situations where I’m surrounded by wealth and by people who live/have lived very privileged lives. 

Somehow I’ve managed to adapt well and “pass” such that people never guess my background is what it is.  But in the back of my mind I always worry in those situations that somehow they know, or are going to figure out, that I’m not one of them.   Like in movies a la Pretty Woman or Sweet Home Alabama.   Luckily, I’m not a prostitute, and not lying about my last name while secretly still married to my high school sweetheart from the deep south, but I do still worry that people might figure me out and decide I don’t belong.    Silly, right?  (Well, it’s not completely unfounded.  One time during my 1L year I was at a fancy dinner, and Alexander was explaining all of the silverware to me, and how to properly use it all, and this guy across the table rolled his eyes at me.  Excuuuuuuuse me, sorry my family hasn’t been eating with 14 forks at every place setting since I was 5 years old.  And another time, I was at a fancy restaurant and I was just trying to be helpful, as I would in a less classy place such as Applebees, and stack the dishes for the waiter.  Apparently, I was not supposed to do that, and it was suggested that maybe I would like to join the wait staff). 

I’m coming to grips with it though.   There was a time in early law school where I wouldn’t go into an expensive store without Alexander, because in my mind he looked rich and I didn’t.  Now, I go into stores I want to go in, and contrary to my silly thoughts, nobody treats me like I shouldn’t be there.   I think the insecurity is finally fading.  Which is why this all came up when I attempted to write about my weekend in Santa Barbara.  I spent the weekend at my friend’s parents’ very nice vacation home in Montecito, chatting in the mornings with the very successful parents, out on their beautiful boat for lunch one day, and down at a private beach club for lunch the next, and the whole time I felt comfortable.   I felt like I fit in just fine. 

So maybe I can finally let go of insecurity #2, and start focusing on insecurity #1 (hellooooo Jillian Michaels).  However, in the back of my mind I do wonder if when I least expect it, I will be in a situation full of rich people and they will whip out the secret handshake and I won’t know it and they will be like, “..AHA! GOTCHA!”  I suppose we’ll just deal with that when we get to it 😉

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6 thoughts on “I’m No Carmichael.

  1. This is curious. My friends also seem to feel I need to be insecure about my height even though I now feel that is one of my better features. I’m very used to the stares and have ways to deflect them and even make friends with it.

    My insecurities are (1) my hearing – I’m partly deaf, but get along well when I can see people. They react strangely when they hear I have a problem and speak LOUDLY and SLOWLY and treat me like a child. I obsess about that some times. (2) my weight. I don’t have any. My BMI is lower than the thin limit and I’ve never been able to put on weight. The same with both of my parents and my older brother (oddly enough I’m much taller than them). This means I don’t have much in the way of curves and that can be embarrassing. It is pretty humiliating when someone mistakes your sex. I do have one good curve – the waist to the hips – and I do everything to accent it. (3) is similar to yours. I came from a family that struggled with money. Unlike you I don’t have much of an education, but found myself in work that has me doing well financially and around a lot of wealthy people (no – I’m not a prostitute:-) For a long time there were expectations on how to act. In the end I’ve found most of them a bit on the vain and shallow side and I hang around other types. So I’m almost over (3), but (1) and (2) are works in progress.

    I certainly wouldn’t trade my height – this is not something I would have imagined myself saying when I was a teenager.

    • I, like Clare, love your “I’m not a prostitute” comment 😉

      Also, I am totally with you on the height thing! I hated my height up through early college but somehow came to terms with it, and now I definitely consider my height one of my best features (after my all around attractiveness of course! 😉 Just kidding!).

    • Also, I imagine the hearing thing must get really frustrating! I would want to yell all the time “My hearing may be a little limited, but I’m not 5 years old and I’m not an idiot!”

  2. LOVE the Sweet Home Alabama reference. Great movie =)

    In England people are always trying to put you in a “class” box (being ‘foreign’ was pretty freeing there, they just lump foreigners alll together so it doesn’t matter what class you’re in!). It’s made me very aware of that sort of thing though. Here, it seems that the ‘class system’ is less about background (in England you can have zero money but still be upper class) and more about what you have. It’s very strange to me, because there are so many people with a lot of money who have zero class in the “classy” sense! I do think it is important to learn to use the right silverware if you are going to be eating at a lot of those kinds of dinners, and to know what’s appropriate and not in certain situations, but don’t feel ashamed of your background or like you are an imposter, you are NOT! you have just as much right to shop in those stores, eat at those restaurants and hang out with whoever as people from rich backgrounds do – and anyone who might make a big deal out of your background if they “discovered” it is not worth knowing anyway!

    One of the things I love about being American is the American Dream, the true dream, not the adapted one that seems to be all about how much material crap you can get. “If you work hard enough, you can do and be anything you want” – well girl, you have worked HARD! Enjoy the perks of your job without guilt or awkwardness! Who cares if someone realizes that you grew up poor? If they are worth anything they should be even more impressed by you for that!

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