(This is drawn from the events of several evenings and hours of thought. The sentiments are largely exaggerated, while the inspirational is true. Thanks to all my lovely friends who are true to themselves and who are teaching me to do the same.)
"There's nothing like being the only artsy person in the room," she thought. Also, the only un-sportsy. She hugged herself, as if putting a barrier between herself and the subjects floating around that she'd never understand.
Though they were all friends, and even the best of friends, she was the only one without a completed college degree. And sometimes she felt it. Oh, she had taken creative writing courses, she'd studied language at a foreign university and such. She'd called herself a free-lance writer and even sold some stories and articles to magazines. But after a couple years of waiting for "the" book to be published, friends had stopped asking about her writing. In fact, they'd stopped asking her anything that didn't involve her kids or family.
Looking around the table, she didn't see people, she saw titles: engineer, high school teacher with a master's in math, doctorate in applied mathematics, a ski champion and teacher, another engineer, a bachelor's in health and safety, a hospital director, a champion ice climber, a maritime law lawyer. Clearly, she had over-achieving friends, she told herself ruefully, then caught herself in surprise. She analyzed her feelings. She didn't, in fact, begrudge them their success, nor the hard work that had gotten them there. So why did she feel so...inadequate? So small?
And what was she thinking when she decided to go skiing? There's wasn't a ball involved, but it still wasn't an area where she excelled. They had spent the day babysitting her, basically.
She wondered briefly if she should go to bed. She wasn't really adding anything to the conversation.
Providentially, magically, a subject came to end her pity party. They had been discussing high school, and now they were talking the stupid poems and books they'd been forced to study. One was George Orwell's "1984".
She sat up a little straighter. Literature. Yes. She casually mentioned that "1984" was a dystopia.
"Dystopia. It's like an anti-utopia, or a utopia that doesn't work," she replied.
"Yeah. Like 'Hunger Games,'" she said.
"Never heard of it. Have you?"
"Well, it's basically a futuristic type of society, generally after some cataclysmic event. The government is corrupt and totally in control. That's my description, anyway. It's a growing genre with books like 'Shatter Me,' 'Matched' or 'Divergent?'" She looked around to see if anyone recognized them.
If it wasn't so cliché, she would have said that a light bulb came on, or lightening struck or something. She realized that in this conversation she was in her element, and they were not. It was as if the yin and yang equilibrium of the earth came back.
No one is good at everything. Each as their own specialty, their own weakness. Instead of looking at others, she needed to look to developing her own strengths and working on her own weaknesses.
A few nights later, one of her friends said, "What was the word we learned?"
"Dystopia," she said with a smile.