LET’S FACE IT. Most of us moved here for the beaches, the lake breezes, and our safe, historic neighborhoods. It is so darn pretty here, with quaint gas streetlamps and pampered trees. To have an independent bookstore and the prettiest high school in Illinois? Someone pinch me. It’s too much. Some days, living here feels like living on a movie set. Some days, it is a movie set.
Sadly, idyllic living comes with a price: stereotypes. Before we moved here, I watched the movies. I read the books. I was warned. If you believe the rumors, you’d assume the whole lot of us are repressed and unwelcoming. Repressed and unwelcoming seems like a small price to pay for good schools and low taxes, so we all moved here anyway.
When we moved in, I girded my loins and prepared myself for the onslaught of tut-tutting, Lilly wearing, grownup Mean Girls who would most certainly ostracize me for having a three-foot, grass skirted hula-girl lamp in my living room. These people never appeared.
My first years in this town was a page out of the children’s book Are You My Mother?, where a baby bird asks all varieties of creatures, ‘Are you my mother?’ until, alas, she finds her missing mother. Like that baby bird, I ambled through church basements, networking events, and elementary, middle, and high school gymnasiums in search of soul sisters, earnestly asking every woman I met, ‘Are you not repressed?’
We’ve lived here for nearly ten years. I feel comfortable reporting the findings of my highly unscientific study: There is a Repressed and Unwelcoming Spectrum. At one end of the spectrum there is the personification of a NOLA Mardi Gras Parade (these people exist here). On the other end of the Repressed and Unwelcoming spectrum envision Mary Tyler Moore’s, icy character in Ordinary People, the Academy Award winning film set and shot in Lake Forest.
From my data, I can confirm the vast majority of us fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Most of us are hot messes with fabulous looking social media feeds. Most of us are the kind of people who lose our sh*t with our kids and hope our neighbor didn’t hear. In all likelihood, the neighbor did hear us yelling, but the neighbor will say she didn’t because she’s in the middle of the spectrum, too. She’s just so relieved you aren’t repressed and unwelcoming. Middle-of-the-spectrum people are my favorite.
I have personally never met anyone in this community who fits the repressed and unwelcoming stereotype. I’m not saying these folks do not exist. I assume they do. I’m just saying I haven’t run into them in the places I tend to socialize: in the veterinary parking lot, at the cheese counter, or on the sidewalk in front of my house. Perhaps repressed and unwelcoming people gather elsewhere; I don’t know.
Despite not personally knowing any repressed or unwelcoming people, I do owe those elusive people a debt of gratitude. Those poor people slog around, almost singlehandedly upholding this community’s negative stereotypes. What commitment! Considering their sacrifice, I shouldn’t want for more, however I have to admit it would be wonderful, if occasionally, we got thrown a bone and one of those repressed and unwelcoming people would slowly morph into a flamboyant, old school, repressed character, the kind who eats cat food and vodka for breakfast and walks pet raccoons to the hardware store on Tuesday mornings. They have those kinds of repressed and unwelcoming types in The Hamptons. We could really use a couple of those here.
For more information or to tell her where you think you fall on the spectrum, check out T-Ann’s websites: t-annpierce.com and theconfidencetriangle.com. She’s on Insta @tannpiercecoaching and @the.confidence.triangle.