Or, as I sometimes like to think of it, fitting out.
In my head I have started this blog a MILLION times! But every time I even get close. I hesitate. Do I really want to be judged? What if my friend "so-and-so" doesn't like it? Or, what about those people we all inevitably have in our life, that shake their head in agreement to a new idea or venture, but you can feel their vibe is negative and not supportive at all. The nay-sayers. Personally, when I come upon an uncertain time in my life, I tend to go back to my roots. Instead of fitting in, I allow my self to fit out.
I've had off and on periods of my life where I don't feel like I fit in. In all honesty, I am more likely to feel that I don't fit in somewhere than to feel like I do fit in. This feeling started early in life, and eventually became part of my fiber and began to feel "normal". Sometimes it bothers me, but for the most part, I simply stopped caring. And when you stop caring about something that is bothering you, something beautiful happens, you become FREE. You stop giving power to the negative feelings and become a little more connected with who you really are!
In grade school and middle school, I moved around, A LOT. By a lot, I mean, every year, from kindergarten to eighth grade. No sooner would I begin to feel familiar with a school or a class and I'd be packing up all my stuff again and moving somewhere new. Being the "new girl" became the new normal. Moving so much made it hard to form long term friendships, or to feel like I belonged.
Not only did I not fit in because I was always new, I just didn't fit the mold. Regardless of age and location, I just didn't belong. I didn't have long pretty hair, I wasn't obsessed with boys, and I didn't care what I wore to school. The other girls would write notes to each other and have sleep overs. They all fit a part and had a role to play within their tight circles. I was kinda gangly, all freckled out, with short hair, and as if that all wasn't enough, I was a tom boy!
The truth is, the reason I wasn't like the other girls is because my life wasn't like theirs. My parents divorced when I was very young, and, as was standard for the time, I lived with my mom. This was the early 80s. My mom moved around a lot because she was limited in job options and quite frankly, she couldn't get her shit together. She always seemed to find drama as soon as we moved somewhere and then quickly burnt bridges and moved. Always for a "fresh start" and a chance to start over! The life lesson here is; if nothing changes, then nothing changes! Am I right? You can't up and move, but not change your M.O., but that's for another blog post!
Another thing that made my life sort of hard and awkward in the early 80s is that my mom was gay. Not only was this not socially acceptable yet, but alternative lifestyles really were not publicly shared, so it caused us to be a little more secluded. I was 6 years old when my mom sat me and my sister down and told us she was gay. I use the term "gay" loosely, because she never fully committed to the lifestyle.
I mean sure, for a few years she would date a girl, and maybe eventually said girl would move in, but the chaos that my mom needed in her life, made any potential partner; male or female, run for the hills. In hindsight, I think my mom was very confused, but also open-minded. She had deep wounds of trust issues with men, and a family history of alcoholism that would become the undertone of every life decision she made. BUT, my mom's choice to exclusively date women for most of my life, didn't scar me. (The scaring came from lots of other shit!) It just forced us to live a quieter kind of life. The kind of life where I couldn't invite anyone over, because they might find out about her lifestyle. I always had to get creative when people asked about my dad or if my mom had a boyfriend. My mom's lifestyle didn't define me, but it did limit me in some ways.
So...long story even longer, there I was, bouncing around from school to school. Always the new girl, and always the outsider. I learned to embrace who and what I was and to take my place in the world. I became a loner. I wrote a lot, I read a lot, and spent a lot of time alone. Music became my friend and writing became my medicine. Truth be told, this was an early gift in my life! Instead of feeling outside pressures to fit into a mold and to "fall in line" so to speak, I became very introspective at a young age. I was always in my own head and in my own heart. Trying to figure out life, looking for a deeper meaning when things happened, and doing my best to cope with my mom's messy life!
I became overly aware of things that most kids my age didn't seem to notice. A slight gesture from one girl to another, mocking me. Giggles in the cafeteria, when I sat alone. Conversations of how much fun Suzie McPerfect's birthday sleep over was last weekend. Boys whispering to each other, as I walked by, saying "she's a dike, look how short her hair is.". I can't count how many times I fought tears getting off the bus, feeling like those last 30 steps were harder holding it together than the entire day had been.
At some point, being alone just felt better. I never let them see me cry. I didn't want them to win. I didn't want them to know how much it hurt to not be included. To not be accepted.
By the time mom was ready to move again, so was I. By 4th or 5th grade, not only had I accepted the pattern of relocating every year, I had also accepted that I would be the new girl for another school year, and I would be completely misunderstood and judged for reasons beyond my control. Nope. I was not one of the cool kids, and I would never be! I became really good at deflecting real pain with sarcasm, and I was a master at pushing my sadness away and ignoring it.
Once I hit 9th grade, we didn't move anymore. My mom settled in Virginia, and for the first time ever, I called a place home. At some point, the certainty that I wouldn't fit in, reflected as self-confidence. My "give a fuck" busted, and people knew it when I walked into the room. It happened somewhere around 9th grade. I just no longer cared, and it felt great! I was free. Free from criticism, free of the mocking, free from all of it. Soon I was making friends left and right. Apparently, the confidence in knowing I would never be accepted, morphed into a rebellious attitude, and that made me.....cool? I have no idea! I had rules though! I was never friends with the popular kids in high school. Not "The mean girls", and not the "jocks". I didn't care about gossip, or being clicky, because I knew what it felt like to not be included, and I never wanted to be the topic of discussion in a boys locker room. If you were a misfit, a loner, or ate lunch alone, we would become friends.
Eventually, I developed a sort of six sense. I could just read people really quickly. Call it a vibe, an aura, I'm not really sure. I can just feel if a person is being real or not. To me, having this ability meant I had protection. I could walk past a person in the hallway and get a feel for them immediately. I became picky with who I called a friend, and who I allowed in my circle. Through all 4 years of high school, we never moved, and I created friendships that I still have till this day. I would dare say by my junior year, I was popular! People would say hi to me as I walked down the hallways and I didn't even know who they were. I'd just give a slight grin, a little wave, and be on my way!
A few years later, when I became a mom at 18, I again felt the familiar feelings of disapproval and being an outcast. Everyone who was my age, was off to college and everyone who had kids, was much older than me. Once again, I found myself in unfamiliar waters. I was married at the time, and refocused life on my new family. I had left behind the unstable home of my mother, but I quickly realized that no matter where you are in life, regardless of age, location, occupation, or social status, you are going to go through phases where you just don't feel that you belong anywhere.
Yes, kids in grade school and high school can be vicious, but adults aren't always easy to deal with either. Even finding yourself lost in a sea of familiar faces can sometimes be lonely, but I think feeling alone in a sea of people you know may just be a social Que that you are becoming more aligned with who you really are, and maybe those aren’t your people anymore.
Its almost like an ebb and flow. Something you can actually count on happening from time to time. Instead of trying so hard to fit in, I think we should learn to "fit out". Listen to your inner compass. Your personal truth teller. If you find yourself at a social gathering that just doesn't feel right, and surrounded by people that prefer gossip instead of meaningful connection, take notice. That uneasy feeling deep in your belly. When you attend a dinner party all evening and realize you didn't have one conversation all night that lit you up. Don’t ignore that lack of engagement. That's your intuition telling you "these are not your people". When you feel trapped in a relationship or a marriage with a person that you no longer recognize. A job that no longer feels right. Instead of settling for "fitting in", seek like-minded people who are doing things that you find fun, and give them your time and energy! Don't settle in for the long haul, in any relationship that isn't feeding you. People change, relationships change, friendships change, life changes. It's inevitable! Change is a sign of growth, in one way or another. Acknowledging and embracing these changes will help further your growth much more than staying in a familiar place and ignoring your truest feelings.