Isn't it strange to be an Orthodox Jew yet be afraid of the frum world? That's me to a large degree. I can't quite explain it, but I'm guessing it stems from some lifelong insecurities that happen in social or school settings. Not being "like them"; standing on the outside looking in.
A few months ago someone described me in a blog as "...a frum woman..." I stopped reading right there, and was momentarily panic-stricken. I thought I'm not frum, I'm Orthodox, but not frum. Does this person really think me to be frum -- I didn't attend yeshiva day schools or high schools; I didn't go to seminary; I don't cover my hair all the time; I wear short sleeves; I listen to all music; I sing out loud; I'll "mix dance"; I'M NOT FRUM.
How odd is that -- to be Orthodox, but wanting to diassociate myself from a "frum" label. To me "frum" connotates sheitels and shteibels; black hats and stockings; it implies a degree of Yiddishkeit that goes beyond mine.
There were several times when I attended an Agudah minyan in Toronto on Shabbos because we'd been invited to acquaintances' bar mitzvahs there. My husband was downstairs with his work chevra and it was okay because he looked like them, just minus a black hat. I, on the other hand, very reluctantly climbed the stairs to the ladies' gallery, knowing I wouldn't know anyone, and knowing I wouldn't feel right.
I was probably the only married woman each time I went who wore a hat, not a sheitel. In those days I had no children yet, nor was I pregnant. Strike number two. This is not imagined by me at all, nor set up by me at all, but it was clearly evident that I was not one of them; I was not frum, I was "just Orthodox".
Or there were several times when my husband and I walked to different shuls along Bathurst Street, the main Jewish thoroughfare in the city. He either would be wearing a black suede kippah or even a crocheted kippah. And when we'd pass frum men, dressed in "bekeshes" and "shtreimels" or even Borsoleno hats, and my husband would say "Good Shabbos", we received no response in return. Why? Because they were frum, and we were "just Orthodox". The fact that we did not dress like them, did it mean that we were not like them? They looked right through us as if we weren't there.
So I'm really not there. I'm not frum; I'm "just Orthodox".