More Than We Think
Mensa is my respite from #MomLife
I don’t know what you think a Mensa member is supposed to look like or sound like, but it probably ain’t me. I didn’t grow up being told I was smart, attend fancy schools, have a stellar GPA, or particularly stand out for my perceived intelligence.
Sure, I always seemed to be lost in deep thought, but no one else cared, and it never did me any good other than making me socially awkward. At some point in my early 20s, I learned about Mensa from the back of a puzzle book, and in hopes of assuaging my misunderstood awkwardness, I took the test. I was surprised when I passed.
Curious but insecure, I attempted a few meetings. I felt out of place and decidedly unsmart, but I gave it my best effort. I tried to get involved for a couple of years. I was even the first Gen Y Coordinator for Greater Los Angeles Area Mensa. But then life got busy, and I stopped caring and dropped out. I also got married, and then we started having kids. That took over life as well.
Look, I love my kids. They bring me great philosophical and existential meaning. I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I always knew I wanted multiple kids. This is the life I’ve chosen, and I don’t regret it. But I have to be honest: Mom life, especially stay-at-home mom life, has been much more mentally taxing than I realized it would be. After years lost in a land of littles, I began to feel my mind slowly dying without access to challenging mental stimulation.
At 36 and visibly pregnant with my third child, I decided on a whim to attend the Los Angeles Regional Gathering. Then at 38, I stepped a bit further into M world and attended the 2019 Annual Gathering in Phoenix. I left the kids at home with my husband for a mom vacation and had no clue what I was getting myself into.
And (if I may continue to speak colloquially) OMG.
I didn’t have to censor my thoughts or worry I was talking too much about something and losing people. I just talked. And other people just followed along and talked back. It was amazing.
Unlike my previous attempts to assimilate within Mensa, this time I surprisingly seemed to fit in. I didn’t even have to try. Unlike in my usual kid-centered world, I didn’t have to repeat myself a billion times or speak in child-friendly language or put up with huge emotional tantrums while conversing. I didn’t have to censor my thoughts or worry I was talking too much about something and losing people. I just talked. And other people just followed along and talked back. It was amazing.
I left Phoenix on a high I hadn’t felt since I was a teen at church youth group camps. I knew I’d finally found my people within Mensa.
Since the AG, I’ve tried to be a better Mensa member. I got involved in SIG Facebook Groups; I wrote a blog article about why more stay-at-home moms should join Mensa; I hosted a small local M’s meetup at my house; I discovered the community and freedom of Firehouse; and hey, I’m even writing this for the Bulletin.
Realistically, though, I still have mom life going on over here. I still have kids who want all my attention, along with all the regular duties of family life. I don’t always have time for Mensa, and especially with Covid-19 and 2020 bringing their share of personal dark funks, I’ve recently taken several pauses and breaks from online M groups. But….
Even though this past year has derailed me a bit, and I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Facebook Group involvement, I’m still thankful I have Mensa as a community to go back to when I’m ready. I’m holding out hope for the World Gathering later this year and that I’ll be able to reconnect with my people in person once again.
I need my people. I need our weirdness. Our uniqueness. Our varied backgrounds. Our fascinating perspectives. Our willingness to tap into each other’s minds and see each other as more than just our simplistic, superficial, online facades.
We might not all look or sound like what people think of as the typical Mensan, but we’re all here in this little community of outliers together. And that’s pretty cool. So, I think I’ll stick around.