Maybe we were called freaks when we were younger. Maybe there’s always been something that’s seemed a little off about us. It’s not just one quirk, but a series of differences that others us.
Maybe we flitted from one social group to another, never quite finding our crowd, never quite feeling a sense of belonging. Maybe we didn’t blend in — maybe we even stood out — but we were constantly overlooked, bypassed, forgotten.
Maybe we were ridiculed for trying too hard. Maybe we were ridiculed for not trying hard enough. But no matter what we did, we never managed to fit in anywhere.
Maybe we felt lonely, but surely some of us managed to fill that void with hobbies, obsessions, preoccupations, overachieving, underachieving, daydreaming, promiscuity, or addiction. Maybe we wallowed, maybe we fought. Maybe we pointedly alienated everyone on purpose to keep them from alienating us. Maybe we tried and tried, but kept getting ostracized.
Maybe it hurt and maybe it didn’t.
Our culture tells us that “fitting in” stops being of a concern after adolescence. Some of us know that’s a lie. Whether it be in work or professional environments, with our families of origin or our chosen families, in our hobbies or social groups, fitting in matters. But some of us, even as adults, we don’t fit in — and that matters.
I don’t have any solutions. I’ve felt on the outside all my life and in that regard, adulthood hasn’t been an improvement on adolescence or childhood. Those of us that feel different, well, we all have our reasons. Sometimes it’s something that we can’t articulate, just a feeling of otherness that permeates our lives.
Some will say that our culture breeds isolation and as such, most people feel like they don’t fit in. But that’s not who I’m addressing, that’s not who my heart bleeds toward. Some of us just truly stick out, unable to conform (this isn’t about being unwilling to conform or fake conformity, this is about the actual inability to blend) to those around us. Some of us manage to create circles of misfits, but even in my own circle of misfits, I don’t feel as though I belong.
Too much of something, not too much of another thing.
Keep being odd on your own terms. (Or, as my friend Heather Ace Ratcliff says, “Stay weird. Be kind.”)