On the outside, I may look like a normal, successful young woman. But on the inside, I’m a mess. My secret shame haunts me. No matter how hard I try, I literally never know what anyone is talking about. Ever.
At parties, I’ll quietly enter a crowd of people having a group discussion, nodding along as if I understand. I always hope that eventually I’ll hear a phrase I recognize and be able to click into what it is that they’re all talking about. But just as soon as I start to get a sense that everyone is mad about American politics, suddenly the topic shifts to Syria, and then to memes, and then to Ariana Grande. What’s going on, where are we and how did this happen?
Culture flies over my head like so many clouds in the wind.
When did everyone decide socialism was cool? Why are we all wearing ugly sneakers? Is TV good or bad or better or worse than movies? All of a sudden everyone has plants. Is plant code for a drug? What is a plant-stagram? What is anyone talking about?
For as long as I can remember, the world has been a stranger to me. Growing up, I was never part of my friends’ inside jokes or the first to raise my hand in class. But I thought that by the time I became an adult, I’d have gotten a sense of things or figured out some strategy for making my mind recall the things that other people are referring to. Instead, my symptoms got worse. As the years went by, everyone else built up a series of more and more common reference points, of which I am somehow woefully unaware. Today, I’m more confused than ever. Whether it’s a conversation about a book, movie or even a shared experience with the barista on the corner, I’m simply lost.
I have no fucking clue what the hell any of it means.
There’s no known cure for my condition. Or at least whenever I ask someone about how to fix it, I don’t get what they’re saying.
Honestly, my condition might be as much a blessing as it is a curse. Maybe what everyone’s saying isn’t important. I really have no idea.