How disempowering it is to decide that I am a misfit or that I’m not particularly worth getting to know. As I write those words, it brings me back to my high school years when I did feel like an outsider, like I didn’t fit the mold of what it meant to be a teenager.
I wanted to read poetry and talk about God. My friends were more interested in boys and clothes. So, I tried to find new friends. And I kept the poetry and God to myself. This helped in the short-term. But the story took hold in me - the story of Not-Belonging.
I had similar struggles in college when friends had different ideas about how they wanted to spend their free time. I would go to the dance studio on a Friday night - as a choreographer, I had a key - and I would put on music and move. I just couldn’t face the keg parties and the social banter.
Thankfully, adulthood has offered me some alternative social opportunities that don’t have to revolve around alcohol or banter. I still notice myself staying on the periphery at times. I tend to be reserved in new situations - I have had a lot of those in the last two years - and it makes it harder for people to get to know me.
I’m quite comfortable showing up as competent, reliable, useful. Showing up vulnerably is much harder. Perhaps that retincense to be vulnerable keeps me floating near the edge.
I’ve recently joined a women’s circle in town as a way to meet people. It is a place for women to be in relationship in an intentional way, to feel supported and offer support, as we explore what it means to live into who we want to be in the world.
It requires showing up authentically, with a willingness to be vulnerable. I didn’t exactly jump in with both feet in terms of trust and vulnerability. But as the weeks go by, I feel myself opening up little by little.
I am aware that holding onto the story of Not-Belonging externalizes the issue. It becomes about my relationship with other. What if that story is turned inside out?
It becomes the story of Belonging - to myself. Now that feels like a song worth singing.
Derek Walcott has a beautiful poem about coming home to one’s self. It begins with the lines:
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome…
Being with myself, welcoming myself, loving myself.
The most rewarding work - and the work of a lifetime.
What does it mean to you to come home to yourself? How might you show yourself that warmest of welcomes?
Jessica Curtis is a professional coach who helps people cultivate intention and live from a place of meaning and authenticity. If you think you could benefit from working with Jessica or want to invite her to work with your group, reach out to start a conversation.