I’m in January mode: a bit mellow after the holidays but abuzz with dreams and hopes that I’m eager to see realized. With those dreams and hopes comes a putting on of the “big girl pants”: paying attention to and acting decisively on matters about which I’ve been lax or disinterested. Like creating a will and an advanced health care directive.
The process makes you realize that few things on this earth are worthy of the level of importance that we give them. As John Ortberg says: “It all goes back in the box.” We carry nothing with us to the grave.
So as I pull my various ishes together, I begin reminiscing about relationships: family, friends, school, college, work. A theme of “not fitting in” starts to emerge.
I’ve always had a pervasive sense of not belonging. Most people who know me would be surprised that I would think that way. But for the longest while, I haven’t felt like I fit in, as much as I have wanted to. The feeling of not fitting in was strong enough at times to push me into making less-than-wise choices.
A few months ago in my quiet time, I raised the issue with God. His response: “You’re not supposed to fit in.”
But it makes sense. Why would He make snowflakes unique and not human beings? Why was I hankering after a sense of belonging among others that could only come via a relationship with Him?
Most of us experience that desire to be part of the “in” crowd. To blend in. To not be “other.” The world would have us in lockstep on religion, politics, fashion, food, media–you name it–and the desire to conform is inculcated from early. So, breaking rank with the prevailing groupthink, and being comfortable in that decision, is challenging but very necessary.
I can’t say I’m totally free from wanting to fit in. After all, it’s been part of my modus operandi for a quite a while. But what I do see emerging is a growing unwillingness to be shackled to other people’s idea of what I should conform to. Maturity might have a lot to do with it! Thinking inside the box has its place, but it can become suffocating.
So… I’m not fitting in. And that’s okay. In all of my hyphenated wonder (female-black-West Indian-professional-single-Christian-recovering people pleaser), I’m supposed to be different. I’m called to be different. Even the Bible states that we Christians are a peculiar people. Different, not deficient.
For all of you who have gone through or are going through the “not fitting in” blues, take heart. As you choose to be the real you, the authentic you, your tribe will emerge.
Like-minded folk will be drawn to your uniqueness. They will celebrate your joie de vivre, cosign on your whimsy, clink their champagne glasses to your je ne sais quoi, and revel in your randomness. But they’ll never get a chance to do so if you meld into the vast sea of sameness that’s out there. Been there; done that. So not worth it!
Remember Scott Stratten’s advice:
Do you struggle with not fitting in? Or are you a rugged individualist?