Have you ever felt like you aren’t quite fitting in?
Like you’re the only person in a crowd who thinks the way you do? Maybe you seem to always make choices that seem odd to the masses. Maybe the path you’ve decided to take in life looks different than most of those around you.
I think most people would say that they feel different sometimes. But I’m talking about something more specific than that. I’m talking about feeling like you are on the fringes for years, decades even.
For as long as I can remember, I have always felt a little different. It hasn’t necessarily always been a bad different. In fact, there are some ways that I’ve loved going “against the grain,” like they say.
But then there have been the other times: all the times that people have looked at me a little cock-eyed after hearing ways we’ve made choices that are different than most.
I’ll never forget the time we met our new neighbor, and she mentioned hearing that we had birthed our babies at home. Then she looked at us like we were the negligent parents that she heard about in nursing school, because why else would someone do that? Have I mentioned that we had NEVER met before? I digress…
Most days, these types of criticisms might make us laugh a little. But, on days when we’re feeling rocky, when we’ve forgotten who we are and whose we are, these types of judgments can be tough for first-born people-pleasing types, like me.
Have you ever been on a road trip and looked out the window just in time to notice one lone tree in the middle of a wide pasture? There’s a whole panorama of life outside your window: cattle, cacti, maybe wildflowers. But, for whatever reason, your eyes seem to focus on this lonely tree.
The reason the tree stands out to you is not because it’s the first time you’ve seen one like it.
You could live almost anywhere in the world, and you will have seen hundreds or thousands of different tree varietals in your lifetime. This oak, or pine, or tall spruce isn’t interesting because it’s new to you.
The tree catches your eye because of how it stands in contrast to the plants most near it.
For as long as I can remember, whenever I’ve seen a lone tree in a field, I have felt an odd connectedness to it.
There’s something profound and vulnerable about this massive organism standing there juxtaposed against the gentle hills and short grasses around it. If she had eyes, she could see for miles what the soil could only dream about.
Maybe the fringe people aren’t crazy. Maybe those of us who live a little differently are really just standing next to grasses and hills. They each serve a purpose, in their own right. They each have value.
But, if the world tells you that your differences make you less-than, weird, or other, you can just tell the world to shove it. You, my brave and vulnerable friend, were never meant to blend in. You were meant to catch our eye.