I was thinking the other day about some biology I once tried to teach my kids back in the days of yore when I homeschooled them, after finding the book I used during a vain attempt to purge the garage.
Flipping through the book, I found a chapter about cells. I remember how hilarious it was to try to make my kids say "golgi apparatus" and "deoxyribonucleic acid." But during those lessons, they sat still, with rapt attention, as I talked about how the inner workings of our smallest parts are akin to a city, with a nucleus around which everything else revolves.
It got me thinking about DNA and why we are the way we are. For instance, do I have a messy gene that makes it nearly impossible to keep an orderly home without extreme effort, while orderliness seems to just click with others? Is it really my fault that I suffer from verbal incontinence?
I recently had a lively debate via Facebook messaging about inner circles of gal pals, and what makes an inner circle, how one qualifies, etc. I think it's all in the DNA. I am decidedly not an inner-circle girl. I seem to be wired to attract very interesting, but not mainstream, people. I do not drive the "right" car, and I do not care. My clothes are from Kohl's, and I only get my hair cut twice a year when I can work up the nerve to spend $40 (plus products) on myself.
The inner-circle girls are the ones with the "it" factor. They are lovely, secure, fashionable people who do have the "right" car and the "right" address. Their husbands adore them; their friends do not threaten to nominate them to the TLC show "What Not to Wear." Not one of them would ever think to invite me anywhere, except maybe to be the less-attractive friend who deflects potential suitors (I believe, in trendy terms, that is now called the DUFF). Is it in our DNA to be inner-circle types or not?
An acquaintance asked why people complain to her (she is an inner-circle type) about being left out. Are our egos still so fragile, even in middle age, that we are not happy with our social station in life?
For me, the answer is certainly no. From childhood, I have had a yearning to be in the "in" group; on the "A" list. I have accepted the fact that I am too quirky and opinionated, not to mention too short and with ungainly features, to be in the group. I am also afflicted with the people-pleasing gene, and will go to great lengths to be part of "it," even if just for a moment. In fact, my dear friend Amy and I referred to our desperation for acceptance in our youth as the "never-ending quest for popularity." We once humiliated ourselves by dancing to Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" in the fifth-grade talent show in order to up our social status. Instead, our stock decidedly plummeted and to this day has not recovered (for more details on this, see "BFF" blog post).
I do fear that somewhere in the nuclei of my children, the misfit gene is being replicated. My daughter is universally loved, so I think it may have skipped her. The boys are still too young; only time will tell.
The whole of who we are is endlessly fascinating to me. We may never know the answers to why some have the "it" factor and some don't, but I will never stop questioning and trying to learn. Perhaps that is one good thing that will be passed along to my kids. I can only hope.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.