Why do I feel like I am still trying to Prove Myself to them?

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    I would really appreciate if this post would get THe Wolf’s attention and response, as I greatly respect his opinion.

    For the record, I am a BT. And yet, although I am well integrated in my little charedi world, and BH have been blessed with many friends, and good people who love and care about me, from all around…. there is always this “us and you” sort of a feeling that doesn ‘t seem to go away, despite the passage of time.

    Let me explain. For example, in discussing job opportunities or educational options with a friend, I mentioned I have a bit of an inkling desire to get an education from a college in order to do a particular kind of work in the community.

    (This is not the sort of thing a regular heimishe mother/wife/lady does, by the way….nor am I certain I will EVER do this because the chassidic way of life is what I have chosen. I want to be a good example for my children of a dedicated heimishe mother and not split between a career and home.)

    However, her answer to me was “Well…you could do it and get away with it, because we all know you’re not really like us anyways”.

    In other words because I am a BT from a different background I am not expected to be normal?

    It really stung.

    I know other BT’s have expressed their feelings from the same vein, in matters of always feeling like they’re never really a part of “them” too. This is especially true for me, where I live in a small hassidic shtetl, and I do not speak Yiddish.

    I want to understand something. Why do i feel I am waiting to prove myself finally?

    This friend always says things to me all the time in those lines. Such as I will ask her why in 90 Degree weather she would put undershirts on her girls, which go under their tznius shirts, like is it really necessary? and she would answer :

    “This is the way WE do it”. That is the gist of all her answers to me. We and you.

    You have to understand she is always painting a “us and we picture” when speaking to me. I cannot help but come to the conclusion that “they” believe and feel they are the norm, and center of relativity. And anything differing from “their” standards is different.

    I come from a background of artists and educated yet hippie-like, open minded people who were not so intrinsically indoctrinated about black and white “Truths”.

    So it was a little difficult for me, to have to conform and give up sitting on the grass in summer time, to enjoy nature, and I had to give up hugging trees in public, because I have children to marry off. and everybody knows that no one marries children of tree-huggers. LOL. But I did. I did give it up. albeit painfully.

    One more example, before I sign off…

    I was immersed in this lifestyle for years before this one day I was standing in a public hospital which had a beautiful painted mural on the wall. I found myself standing and staring mezmerized by it for some good few minutes until I finally found my mental clarity to say in my head to myself ” I forgot that I loved art”.

    I mamish forgot that I once loved art.

    I mean to say that I went So Far in my attempts to conform and throw away all attachments to what is not “osgehalten” that I dumped myself out the window, in a sense. Does that make sense?

    Somebody please paint a picture here for me to understand!


    Hopefully, Wolf will soon post here for you, but in the meantime, I’ll say something. First of all, I am not a BT, although I did go off a little for a few years and came back much more clear minded and solid in what I believe in. Also, a few more things we have in common: I love and greatly appreciate art as well (mostly Surreal and Abstract), and I also constantly find a need to prove myself to people. This need mainly comes from a lack of attention and appreciation earlier in my life from my community and part of my family. I still lack that, but I’m used to it now, and it doesn’t bother me as much. Anyway, I think the way this friend of yours talks about “Us and You” is terrible. It’s a giant lack of sensitivity, and should never be said in such a way. And it seems that your need to prove yourself comes from this lack of sensitivity from your friend. Perhaps there is way you can have your friend know that this is bothering you, and that she should be more sensitive about this “divide”. But I still think you might have that “need” to prove yourself because of where you live now, and where you came from, but that only makes you more resilient and focused on your Judaism, which most “frum from birth” people don’t have. I hope you can still love art, though, and not feel bad about it just because your neighbors and friends may not have that appreciation. I would love to discuss art with you..maybe we can have a thread about it.


    I’m not “Wolf” but I can offer my “two cents”. Its not YOU its THEM. It really isn’t your issue and it never will be. People who put up a fence or a draw a line in the sand will always be that way. Either they were brought up that way or they just don’t know better. There is nothing you should do or could do to change that. The best thing you can do for yourself AND your family is be yourself. Enjoy what you choose to enjoy. There are plenty of Jewish artists as well. Hashem gives everyone different gifts and different talents. So if he gifted you with an eye for art or music, then you are lucky to be the receiver of that gift and don’t ignore it or take it for granted.

    The only ones you need to please is Hashem and yourself. Everyone else are really not as important. As long as you are following Hashem’s wishes, you are not doing anything wrong. If you ask a question of a FFB and the best they can come up with is “because that is what WE do”, the reason probably is because they don’t know why they do it.

    THEY are not better than you. YOU are Hashem’s child the same as they are. And you have to give yourself a lot of credit for giving things up to be who you are today. It is so much easier for “US” to be FFB. We don’t know any other lifestyle. It is not so hard “not to do” what you are NOT used to doing. But giving up things that was normal to you, and choosing not to do it is a remarkable sacrifice and understandably a difficult thing to do which is something that should be respected and not shunned or looked down upon. To put it in simple terms. It is not difficult to stay skinny if you were always skinny. But it is much more difficult for someone to give up their old habits and all the foods they love to be as skinny as everyone else and maintain that knowing how good those things tasted and felt to them. I can remember before I married having my hair flow freely in the wind. That was a wonderful feeling that I can no longer experience for the past 36 years. There are many times when I wish I can rip off my sheitel and feel that way again, but I can’t.

    You made a decision to give up an old lifestyle that included many things that you loved to embrace a new lifestyle that you love. But that doesn’t mean that everything in your past was NOT kosher. Please make sure that you don’t give up permissible pleasures and then come to resent that. That is NOT what Hashem wants of you. And please don’t measure frumkeit by the standards of those who choose to judge you or make comparisons towards you. That is NOT what Yiddishkeit is about and it is NOT what Frumkeit is about. Those who do that can learn a few things from the BT community.


    always runs: You are using one particular friend to demonstrate your point. Perhaps she is the exception if she is the only one (or one of the only ones) that excludes you in her verbal “we”. I don’t think many people in your life or town act or think like her at all.


    Always runs with scizzors fast…

    I see you are very torn. You want to be one of the crowd, just like everybody else, accepted by the community. But you are feel different than the others because you love art and have different ideas and a different upbringing.

    My advice to you is to be careful in who you express your thoughts to. You can’t expect all FFB’s in your community to understand your view and where you are coming from. If you make comments about their chassidic ways and minhagim and question them, then you are the one who is setting yourself apart, and she or he will respond to that. Be careful who you share your viewpoint with, and that they will be able to understand you, and you won’t feel so different.

    I am hoping that after poor Leiby’s death we will continue to have more achdus in the Jewish community. It’s not us and them. We are all Jews and we are all in this world together.

    golden mom

    I had a similar problem w a find always judging the garb and the past until I showed her that’s not what counts in life the frumkit and halachos count “not if ur daughter is wearing an undershirt in 90 decrees” but if her daughter was dressed tzious and if she was doing this halachacly correct in kitchen and on shabbos in kitchen and if she would let her kids do things I wouldn’t ….it was a very slow process over a couple of yrs till I got thru that thick head of hers but the point was brought thru loud and clear (it also took a while to stand up for myself)



    I am only judging from what you’ve said here, but I feel pretty confident saying that the line “this is how we do it”, is not as opposed to “how you do it”. “Its just a way of saying, this is how our community does it and you as a part of our community should to”. You are included in the “we”. My father says it like this, my Rebbeim say it like this. Even my friends say “this is how we do it”.

    Maybe there is an inflection in her voice that suggests to you that she is differentiating between you and her. But the sentence on its own is innocuous.

    You say that you are well integrated into your community. But think about it. How often do you think one mother asks another mother “Why do we do x,y and z”? Especially in tight Chassidishe communities, questioning minhagim is not done. And the correct answer is “because this is the way we do it.” This is how the parents taught the children to do x,y and z. When you ask these type of questions you demonstrate that you are “different”, which is the opposite of integration. However, your questions still need to be answered with more depth and it might be best if you expressed them to your husband alone, so that outsiders (ie. those not in your immediate family) should only see your conformity.

    Lastly, be aware that every BT has to give up many things in order to progress in Yiddishkeit- and geirim even more. This is part of leaving an unholy lifestyle to a purely holy one. There are reasons why the Chareidi lifestyle does not include hugging trees (even in private). There are reasons why we do not go to art galleries. It is all in pursuit of more loftier goals.

    That being said, if you are not getting enough sipuk hachaim at home, ask your husband if you can take your family out on picnics or if you might be able to look into Jewish art by frum artists. Or other things that may give you in a kosher, accepted way, what you seem to feel is lacking in your life today.

    Also know, change is a part of growing up as much as it is a part of becoming frum. It is detrimental to see your past as full of things you gave up- especially if in reality they simply no longer interest you as a frum adult. By now, your she’ifos are different, your hashkafa is different. And in all likelihood, the things that gave you simchas hachaim and sipuk are very different as well.

    See how you’ve grown, not what you are “missing”.

    minyan gal

    I certainly must say that Aries has given a most beautiful answer to your question. I also thank you, Airies. I would just like to add that I don’t think that I would like to be a “friend” of this person, because she certainly doesn’t sound like a friend to me. If you are unsure of something (and it certainly doesn’t sound like you are lacking in any aspect of frum knowledge) she can answer in an instructional manner and in a sarcastic manner – and it seems she chooses sarcasm. Also, please remember that Hashem also created artists and the beauty that they create. Everybody needs an interest outside of the home and it is time for you to rediscover your love of art.



    Im going to keep it brief please forgive that.

    Firstly you have to realize that most BT’s stick out and it takes them a very long time to properly integrate. That is in a non chassidish circle. In chassidish circles its much harder because chassidim are very clicks in a way that is each chassidus has an “us vs them attitude” “we are stamar” “they are bobov….”

    Chassidim are harder to integrate with because you also have to learn the language. If you don’t look and sound 100% chassidish you stand out. Its the same way that an American stands out in Eretz Yisroel. Israelis can sniff us out from a mile away even before we attempt to mangle the Hebrew language…:-)

    Honestly, if you want to fit in, you have to play by their rules. It goes that way with any society and group. Nonconformists stand out…

    Another point is, just because you are a BT doesn’t mean you have to dump your past. There are many BT’s who have used their past to better Jewish life like Rabbis and teachers who have advanced degrees in education and other areas…

    If you like art and have a talent for painting pursue that. Hashem gave us talents to use to reach our potential and to find happiness and fulfillment in life. Every skill can be used in a positive way in a Kosher way.

    Personally, I think what’s most important for a person to be healthy is to seek self actualization by pursuing that which makes them happy and that which they have a passion for. Stop living to please others. They arent worth it. Your emotional health is most important for yourself your husband and your kids. Trust me, you will be miserable if your focus on pleasing other people. People will respect you for living a life that’s true to yourself regardless of what others think. It takes courage to be that way, but it takes courage to be a BT so tap into that courage and use that for finding fulfillment in actualizing your abilities.


    You know what? I also constantly feel I have to prove myself to “them”, though I’m born and bred Chassidish. You know why? Because I’m not one of “them”. I happen to be of Poilish ancestry, not Hungarian. It’s this “us and them” mentality that you find even among the most modern, so-called “open-minded” Hungarians, NOT necessarily among Chassidim. (If you ever read “Black Becomes a Rainbow”, where the secular, Hungarian mother of a BT mentions “We blue-blooded Hungarians”, you’ll know what I mean. My friend told me her non-Chasidish, Hungarian family was non too happy with her shidduch, because her wonderful, frum T”Ch husband is Poilish, but when her cousin married a modern doctor of Hungarian descent, the family couldn’t stop exclaiming what a “heimishe” shidduch it was.) Anyway, I tell myself, these are the ones who have weathered all the storms and have remained firm in their Yiddishkeit. This is where I want to raise my kids because their Yiras Shomayim is unparalelled anywhere in chu”l. So I made peace with their narrow-mindedness and I broaden my kids’ horizons, teaching them to appreciate all ehrliche yidden, while keeping their Yiras Shomayim intact Bez”H.


    My Mom a”h always said, when they came to round up the Jews they didn’t care if you were BT, FFB or not Frum at all a Jew was a Jew to them and a Jew is a Jew to me too!


    ARWS, Hashem gave many talents to us. Dovid Hamelech was a musician and poet, his son Shlomo was a genius and poet, there are frum artists galore. Don’t feel guilty for appreciating the matanos that Hashem gave to the world, and the beauty expressed by those matanos.

    The fact that someone tells you something is done a certain way by his/her community, does not make you lesser for not doing the same thing (as long as you are within halachic guidelines). To each his own. If I felt that uncomfortable, Personally, I would move to a neighborhood more in line with my own hashkafa.

    basket of radishes

    What you should realize is that in some of these ultra religious communities, there are those who hold fast to popularity and approval. That does not mean that they dont hold Torah high, but sadly they do not hold fast to Torah in the same way. If you are in a community and you hold fast to Torah, there is no “us and them”. You may have come from a different upbringing, but you are a jew at heart. So if you are getting “us and them” without reason or right conjecture, you are getting not Torah but praise for their own popularity in their own communities. And suffice to say, many people like their popularity and want to keep it that way.

    basket of radishes

    To: Derech HaMelech-

    Differences among our people are what make us a stong people. Noone wants the world to be exactly the same from person to person. In fact, your community should be glad to have someone like a BT in their community. Whereas you had Torah in your crib, this person had to actually find Torah in the world somewhere far from where she (or he in other peoples cases) were raised. This is a huge blessing. So if she has questions and wants to konw a minhag, be friendly and teach. But if your minhag makes no sense other than to your insular way of life, perhaps its not TORAH.


    I thank all of you for your kind and wise words of consolation and clarity, but my favorite response was Derech Hamelechs’.

    I actually do feel myself slipping into clinical depression from this “giving it all up” business.


    Please don’t give it all up. Take what Hashem has laid out for you and appreciate it. Stop and smell the roses.


    I really appreciate all the responses here!

    I think it’s a bit like going from 8th grade to high school. We were comfortable in our community, knew where we stood, but were at a point where it was time to move on. We found ourselves in a good place to grow, but still unsettled and disoriented.

    I went through a “giving it all up” phase but have slowly teased out where I draw the line on artsy things. I just keep reminding myself, I do what I do for Hashem, and for my kids’ chinuch. That we can give our children the Torah education we were not privileged to have is a huge reward in itself.


    Firstly, thank you for thinking so highly of me that you wanted my opinion. It’s nice to be thought of as someone who has a positive contribution to make.

    Secondly, I almost skipped this thread. I don’t normally read every thread (there just isn’t enough time). If you want to make sure I read the thread, feel free to send me an email alerting me to the thread (you can find it just by Googling my username)

    Thirdly, as for the content of your letter itself:

    I think Aries said it best — the problem is not with you, but with those with whom you are choosing to associate. I don’t know if the problem you are having is with this one person (or a small group of people) or, perhaps, the entire community. If it’s just the one person, perhaps it’s time to find a new friend.

    If it’s the community, and you want to remain a part of that community, you may just have to learn to accept the fact that you may never *truly* be one of “them” and that they will always look upon you as one who is “slightly outside” the norm.

    There’s an old prayer called “The Serentiy Prayer” that goes like this:

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

    Courage to change the things I can,

    And wisdom to know the difference.

    You cannot change the basic fundamental attitudes of the entire community. If they always think of you as “the outsider,” especially after all these years, then it is unlikely to change in the future. Accept the fact that this will not change, as much as you may wish it to.

    Please keep in mind that being thought of as “the outsider” does not meant that they reject you or do not love you. It just means that they recognize that there is something different about you (in this case, your upbringing) and, in some ways, it sets you apart from them. But that’s fine. You can still be an active, participating member of the community, even if you’re viewed as “slightly different.”

    I’ve spent a good portion of my life as “the outsider” too, and I know how it feels. But I’ve learned something over the years. Rather than be embarrassed about your difference from the rest of community, simply accept it and, perhaps, even embrace it. It’s a part of you — you can’t excise your upbringing any more than you can excise a part of your soul. Instead, take that difference and make it a strength — that you can see things in a different perspective that other people might not, or that you might have certain insights into problems and situations that might be oblivious to others in the community. In other words, look upon your background not as a weakness, but as a source of strength.

    Keep in mind that in any large enough community, you’re going to come across people who are boors, snobs and stuck-ups. And in any large enough community, you’re going to come across people who will recognize that your differences shouldn’t cause you to be branded as an “outsider” or “not truly one of us.” I don’t know what branch of chassidus you belong to, but I’d be willing to bet dollars to donuts that there *must* be people who are willing to accept you as you are, good and bad (as we all have within us), and not view you as “not *truly* one of us” because of your background. Search out and befriend the latter types and either dump the former, or learn to accept their attitudes.

    Either way, I wish you the best of luck and happiness.

    The Wolf


    Wolf :

    Your post brought tears to my eyes. Thanks


    always, instead of trying to hide your past, be proud! You have accomplished an amazing feat and you should boast rather than try to hide! I am an FFB but it took me many many years to realize that even though I grew up in the same circles as those around me to some I will never measure up. I gave up on trying to and try to associate with people who don’t care about all the shtusim. There will always be some people who will feel they are better, but I have discovered that there are really nice people who do not have a measuring tape when they interact with you and those people are much easier to be around. Choose your friends from those people and you will feel much better about yourself.


    My Mom a”h always said, when they came to round up the Jews they didn’t care if you were BT, FFB or not Frum at all a Jew was a Jew to them and a Jew is a Jew to me too!




    I loved WM’s post as well!

    Also, I dont know of a single thinking human being who isnt constantly assessing his value/standing in his community/surrounding, to some degree, and analyzing his unique perspective of the situation, and what could potentially better or worsen it. In my mind, this is the case whether hes BT or not, newcomer or old. It’s universal. Anyone agree?


    You only feel the way you allow yourself to feel. Don’t let the small-minded people drag you down. The only judge you are beholden to is Hashem, yourself and, to a lesser degree, your spouse. Other people (your rov, children, friends) can offfer their input, suggestions and guidance to the extent that is appropriate to their role, but in the end its your nestegg your building so whatever you expect to have sacked away is up to you.

    That said, outsiders (as meddling and critical as they are) do provide a valuable service. They prod you to go beyond what you might think you are capable of and they give you a chance to self-evaluate yourself to be sure you’re still on track to achieve your goals.

    Don’t let them bring you down, let them build you up!


    I’m not a BT but I always feel like I have to prove myself to the world but I recently realized that I have to prove to myself who I really am and then I wont care what the rest of the world thinks


    perhaps this is a problem only in ny?

    i dont know

    but im a bt, for about 20 yrs. now

    i have NEVER, not even ONCE, experienced any kind of prejudice or negative attitudes because of this

    or maybe i have and i am just to dense to have noticed, but i dont think so

    adarabah, i have many times heard (undeserved) praise for being a bt

    this prejudice i keep reading about in the cr is a complete chiddush to me.

    i just dont get it (this last phrase is meant in two ways)


    maybe you just dont hear it. or ur so sure that you are doing the right thing that it just “floats” over you


    i dont think so

    im a sensitive guy

    you pick up on these things

    i think it has to do with the community


    maybe in bp people are more insensitive. i think OOT they are nicer anyhow. thats why i wanna move there….LOL

    a mamin

    This is really some thread! Alot to think about! Firstly: Always Runs: Do I remember correctly were you awaiting a simcha?

    As far as your ” friend” all I can honesty say is I don’t think she has the proper tools to work with. I don’t believe she understands at all where you are coming from.I wouldn’t put too much energy in that relationship either. She doesn’t mean bad chas veshalom, she doesn’t know any better.

    I want to share a small story with you: By one of my married childrens shidduchim, someone came up with this one: they told my daughter that ” People are saying that my husband is a Baal teshuva”. Do you know what my husbands response was?

    “I wish I was a baal teshuva, I’ve been working on it for years!” Chazak!! Be proud!Wishing you much mazel and nachas!!


    adorable, I think everyone agrees that OOT’S are more accepting. A Jew is a Jew.

    I think in NY communities like BP, the Chassidishe people feel their background and Derech is superior to others, while in Flatbush its the Litvishe, because they are the majority. Those who are from the background with greater numbers, feel superior to others who are in the minority. I think part of it is wanting to pass on to their children that what they are is the best, to prevent the children from swaying in other directions. If parents send vibes that we’re all equal and G-d loves us all equally, then why shouldnt children pick and choose which Derech they prefer?

    With certain groups its not only what you are now, thats of great importance, its where you’re from, despite many great BT’s and Gerim in our history.


    maybe in bp people are more insensitive.

    That’s one way to put it. I would say that they are more sensitive- to people that do not conform to an accepted minhag. If everything is acceptable, then why can’t my children dress less tznius (although still within the halachic parameters)? Rather by absorbing my sensitivity to those that don’t conform to my standards, they will also absorb my standards.


    DH by absorbing my sensitivity to those that don’t conform to my standards, they will also absorb my standards.

    Thats the beauty of Chabad groups. They and their children observe, but they dont put down or worse mock, others whose level of observance is somewhat lower.

    basket of radishes

    Of course, ChaBaD is all good and fine, but when you go to your ChaBaD torah classes, don’t be surprised if there are ladies who are wearing skirts above the knees and all that when you are trying to learn the Torah of Moses. This strikes me as antithecial to our faith. But that said, ChaBaD in my experience so far is busy trying to be the light to the distanced from religious life, but maybe not the light to the true orthodox.


    Thats the beauty of Chabad groups.

    That’s true, but compare the level of observance of Crown Heights to Boro Park or Williamsburg.

    Also, the mindset of Chabad is that because they are always doing kiruv, by nature their mindset is “us” (the mekarvim) vs. “them” (the not yet mekurav). The average non-Chabadnik does not have this mentality to fall behind.

    basket of radishes

    ChaBaD seems like the prince leading the pauper.


    The average non-Chabadnik does not have this mentality to fall behind.

    Could you elaborate a little? The average non-Chabadnik has what mentality…?



    The mekarever/mekarevee mind-state. Meaning [wrongly or not] most of us do not look at every secular/less frum Jew as a potential BT. Especially children. So when they see things that look fun, they are less inclined to think “oh that’s what they do” and more inclined to think “why can’t I do that too”.

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