Sometimes I want to fit in. I want to have people around me whose lives look like my own life. I want to feel normal. I want to be the same.
Instead, I live on this weird little island all by myself. I go to a huge church that is crawling with young families. I’m too old for the young adult program, but I don’t fit into any adult categories because I’m not married. My siblings have both been married awhile and have a bunch of kids, so even in my family I’m “out of the loop”, so to speak. At work, I’ve chosen to follow the lesser-traveled road of substitute teaching. I’m not a part of the applying-for-September-jobs frenzy that is happening right now.
I live on Amanda Island.
It’s mostly great, but it can get a little lonely. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing something wrong because I’m not the same as everyone else. Being different and having to constantly explain oneself is tiring.
I was having a conversation with a mentor of mine, and I was lamenting how I don’t seem to fit anywhere, and that I feel like I should fit somewhere. I’m not in any well-defined group. I just have Amanda Island. While Amanda Island is pretty dang awesome (there are lots of potato chips here), it isn’t like anyone else’s life. She thought for a moment and then said to me, “Amanda, why are you trying to put yourself in a box? Do you even need to have a box?”
They were interesting questions that made me pause, but only for a moment. No, I don’t have a box, and no, I don’t need a box either. That realization was incredibly exciting. If I look back at my childhood and teenage years, I don’t think I ever fit into a box. I’ve happily flattened any box that has come my way.
I’m dog-sitting for friends this weekend, and the dog I’m hanging out with is an independent and sassy Schnauzer who can open the screen door and let herself outside (I may identify with her a little too strongly, but that’s a topic for another post). Yesterday when she went outside, she gleefully wriggled around on her back in the grass. I love that image. I related with that image.
If I ignore those “should” feelings, and focus on only the “actually” feelings, the truth is this: I don’t actually feel left out. I don’t actually feel like I’m at a loss because I don’t have people exactly the same as me in my life. In fact, I feel my life is richer because of the diversity. I am flexible and free to dream and make those dreams a reality because I have very little standing in my way. I am using my gifts in a bunch of different areas at church. I love where I’m at with my job right now. I adore being cool Aunt Tootie. I love every bit of my “actually” life. I don’t need to listen to those “should” thoughts. I don’t belong in any one box. I have flattened the box – obliterated it, even – and now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go roll all over it like a gleeful puppy in the grass.