Have you ever felt like an oddball?
That your “fitting in” has about as much chance as fitting into those small/medium jeans at the Gap?
This week of job and solo pursuits has reminded me – none too gently – that “fitting in” is not in my wheelhouse. Ugh.
Even knowing that this became in inner issue is painful.
At this vintage, I really should evoke my inner “Honey Badger” and not give a sh*t about what folks may assume or think.
But I do sometimes. And I marinate in the “if onlys” that are about as productive as walking into the fitting room with those tiny Gap jeans.
Here’s the Set-up: It was in the middle of meeting and greeting a few thousand of Purpleville’s finest (and kindest!) new freshmen, that epiphany snuck through the malaise of soul. A friend, a K-State leader, moseyed along and we began talking about how his family is doing, his college freshman, and what he’d recently read, Malcolm Gladwell’s, David and Goliath. Before he headed back into the AC, he offered to leave his copy for me to pick up and read.
It’s not a “religious book.”
Malcolm Gladwell just happens to write in a way that shines light on many overlooked dynamics of our collective behavior. His books bring out the undetected obvious and he writes in a way that my brain understands: intelligently conversant…with diagrams which help heaps.
After only a few chapters into David and Goliath, I was challenged afresh to silence the inner rumblings towards my hallmark abundant goofiness. Instead of feeling small about the quirks and how all of the cool kids are cool-y alike (and wholly unlike me), Gladwell reminded how all the best stories are about the unique and tough over-comings.
Remember “Angus” and “Nebraska” and even “Gravity“? These are stories of idiosyncratic scrappy people walking out life in their own broken way. These are not the tales of great wealth or beauty or society sashaying about in uninterrupted brilliance. The difference is the decision to read Tolstoy or tabloids. Inspiration or escape? Hero or herd?
Ultimately, I don’t endeavor my character to be identified by bumper stickers, handbag labels, or fraternal affiliations.
Did I love and do my best – leaving the community/world a wee bit better than before?
It is not in my nature to be pigeon-holed, yet often still, I want to fit in and belong with the “cool kids.” I love the cool kids, but not because of their stuff or name or tailgates; I love them because they are so often just like the rest of us; goofy and kind and thoughtful and funny and spectacularly individual.
As much disservice as I did to myself this week while lamenting my square-pegness, I failed to recognize and call out the beauty in lives of folks who have all of the “cool kid” identifiers: dates, annual ski vacation photos…employment.
I sincerely apologize.
And like the remarkable-imperfect-quirky Izzy the Wonder Dog pictured above, I will do my best to greet you for who you are as opposed to any assumptions that slither to the surface.
I will call out the greatness in your good and challenging life; celebrating the calm and the overcoming with you.
We will live good stories of adventure and derring do.
Because that’s what Scrappy does…works hard, perseveres, and cheers on the other guys along the trail.
Still searching for the North Star.