The freedom in not fitting in

Posted by Kenetha Stanton on

square peg into a round hole 146/365 square peg into a round hole by rosipaw, on Flickr. Used via Creative Commons licensing.

I used to be convinced that life worked much like the children's toy where you found the correctly shaped hole for each piece in order to put all of the pieces in the box.

If I could just find the correctly shaped hole that I could fit through, I'd find that magical community of people who were all just like me. I would thereby be completely validated for being like I am and would live happily after.

I just needed to find the right shaped hole that I could squeeze through, but I've spent most of my life feeling like a square peg trying to force myself to fit through a round hole. Nothing quite seemed to fit my odd shape.

I tried all kinds of different groups and organizations and communities, looking for the perfect fit but never quite finding it. Even when I managed to find some place that I could squeeze into, I would quickly find myself wanting back out because I still wasn't like the others.

Without the perfect fit, there were always people there who were different from me. Not only did they not "get" me with that magical perfectness that made for perfect symbiosis of like minds and personalities, the box would quickly feel confining as we all tried to act like we were the same when we weren't.

I also tried changing myself in the attempts to make myself fit better into the options that I was presented with. I would try to be nicer or more successful or more spiritual or more "together" or more whatever it was that I thought would mold me into the right shape.

But the very fact that I was being someone I wasn't kept whatever sense of community I found in the box I'd squeezed myself into from feeling authentic. It was only the heavy mask I carried that fit. I still didn't. And the weight of the mask was always too heavy to keep it in place very long.

And off I'd go again, trying to find some place that I would fit as I am.

Somewhere along the line in the last couple of years after a particularly painful rejection by a "box" I had wanted to fit into, I gave up. If there was no box that I fit into, I'd just go do my own thing without them.

As I stopped trying to fit, I found it easier to accept myself with all of my odd-shaped corners and eccentric sides. Once I stopped fighting to be just like everyone else, I had more energy to indulge the things that really made me come alive, even when no one else understood them.

I stopped worrying about making sense or being consistent or what others thought or whether I was "normal" and just lived my life.

It's been the best thing I've ever done. I have a wider, more diverse group of friends that make up my community than I've had in years. None of them are just like me. None of them totally "get" me. And that's actually pretty cool.

Different people resonate with different parts of who I am, and I learn new things from new perspectives all the time. I'm supported and stretched all at once by this ragtag community I've assembled, and it's all outside of any box.

I thought I needed to find that community of people who were just like me to feel free to be me and to be whole, but it's actually been letting go of that lie of perfect community of people who "get" me and are just like me that has been the most freeing.

The thing is that the only thing that changed was in my mind. I'm still an oddly shaped peg. The holes are still nicely uniform. I still don't fit. I'm still outside the box. The facts haven't changed, but my perception of them has. I once saw rejection and failure; now all I see is freedom.

Do you fit in? If not, how do you see that? Is that perspective helping you?

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