Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?
That quote came to mind last Saturday, and it has remained at the forefront of my mind since. It's a thought I am wrestling with and wondering about.
I've always wanted to fit in. And sometimes I did. Other times, I didn't. Eventually my desire to fit in turned into not caring. I decided that since I would never fit in, I just didn't care at all. Not about myself or what others thought. It started in junior high and carried through to the remainder of my life.
There were moments of doing everything I could to fit in. I would say that I didn't care, but deep down, I did. I cared too much about what others thought. And it led me on a path that I wish I had never taken - a path of rejection and heartbreak and frustration.
I can point to several different periods of time that took me from being carefree to worrying over what others thought then to not carrying about anything and back to worrying over what others thought. Some of the periods of time I had control over. Others I did not.
I was born with ABS (amniotic band syndrome). It was seen in my hands. My left hand had webbing between the fingers, not fully formed fingers, and a missing nail on my ring finger. On my right hand, my middle finger is missing a nail.
At the age of 26, no one really notices. At the age of 26, I recognize that it doesn't really matter and that others have it worse than me. But when I was going to school on the first day of kindergarten and then first grade and onwards, it mattered more than anything. Because in a world where all you want is to fit in, I stood out without trying.
I was born to stand out. Knitted together in my mother's womb, I was designed to be the way I am - missing fingernails and all.
And I'm accepting that fact. More than that, though, I am learning to love the differences and to appreciate the beauty in them. I am also learning to love who I am and to put my faith and trust on who I was created to be and not what the world created me to be.
It's been a long journey to get to a point where I can even consider the fact that I want to stand out. And I am sure I have farther to go in the journey before I am completely comfortable with standing out.
But I am getting there.
And I think for the first time in a long while I am piecing myself back together. Or rather God is helping me to piece myself back together. I was never good at puzzles without a picture to compare to, and right now, that's what I am. There have been glimpses of myself, yes, but of the whole self... that is something I am currently seeking.
It hit me this weekend that I was on the journey to figuring it out. Not just who I am on the inside but how that will reflect on the outside.
Everything started on Saturday with a trip to the eye doctor and a new prescription for contacts. In recent months, I hid behind glasses, but I decided, finally, that I was ready to stop hiding and got contacts. Then I went to Target in search of sunglasses and purchased a pair of bright yellow aviator sunglasses (if they don't make me stand out, I don't know what would.)
And finally, it ended with a trip to Old Navy.
This is hard to admit, but I promised myself that I would be honest with this journey so I won't hold back. The last time I actually shopped at Old Navy and tried clothes on actually expecting them to fit? I don't remember when it was. And I honestly expected the same to occur during this shopping trip.
I loaded myself with dresses of the XXL size. I picked a few that were XL but not many as I didn't expect there to be a need for any size other than the largest. And much to my surprise (and excitement), the XXL fell off of me. Even some of the XL dresses were a bit too big in places. But I found one. A dress from Old Navy that wasn't the biggest size in the store. So I bought it.
And I am starting to be okay with standing out. I am starting to be okay with putting together the puzzle that is myself and figure out who the real me is underneath the layers I once hid from.
So why was I trying so hard to fit in when I was born to stand out? I don't know, but I do know that from now on I am okay with standing out.
(title from "hometown glory" by adele)