It’s been a thing, my entire life;
Which is difficult for a member of a species that bases much of its survival on the ability to stick together.
(Yeah, we have imagination, and bipedalism going for us, but mainly we look out for one another. That’s how we make it through in a world that would be indifferent about killing and eating us.)
I have never felt like I fit in, anywhere.
In truth, I probably haven’t.
In any fair assessment, I am the oddest of my sibling group. And that usually holds true for whatever peer group I encounter.
I say “encounter” because my peer group, as it stands now, has generally been cobbled together with other oddballs I’ve run into along the road. We’re something like a tiny tribe, but even then, we don’t fit together well most of the time. And it’s taken me my entire life, bouncing from one group to another, never able to find a home, to find these crazed fools I call my family.
(And those two things together ask the question: does nurture = destiny? Let me know if you figure it out.)
All that is to say, coming up on 40, I don’t have a single fucking clue what my place is in this fun-house ride we call life.
So many of the things I’m good at and do are done so much better by so many other people. So, if there is a purpose to all of this, I haven’t found it there.
I had a friend, recently in her blog, talk about embracing a life that was not conventionally what she had in mind when she was younger.
And if you asked me, when I was younger, what I thought my life should be like at anything near my present age, the truth is, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. I didn’t have plans. I figured I’d probably go to college. Check (Albeit much later in the timeline than I expected.) Figured I’d probably be married. Also Check, but also much later. Most importantly, I thought I’d know by now.
You see, I’ve never quite felt like my life had a purpose.
(And I’ll bet most of the populace feels the same way, contrary to what movies and self-help gurus would have us believe.)
Purpose, for our purposes, means direction. I know some people think of it as meaning, but the meaning comes from feeling like one has a direction. It’s easy to get those mixed up.
Now, my blogging friend – who I’m certain doesn’t read this blog – said that she relies on her faith for comfort in walking an unknown, or at least not-planned-for, path.
I say good for her. Everybody needs something.
Usually, I need a drink.
But really, as an Atheist, I don’t much believe in predestination, or any grand, cosmic plan.
I get to sit with my discomfort and doubt.
I sit, and watch, and try to understand it.
And I get on with my day – often slower than I’d like. And definitely not in the rhythm of the regular world.
For good or ill, I feel like a spinning compass that never points north. I feel like the piece that has never fit.
I don’t think I ever will.
In a strange way, that’s my place – the place where I fit is in the not fitting.
(It’s polar thinking; one thing implying the existence of its opposite in order to generate the whole. There needing to be a Back in order to have a Front, that kind of thing. Valid reasoning.)
It’s not comforting, feeling like the stone in the washing machine; that tiny fragment of bone in your hamburger, that one inflamed taste bud that makes you exquisitely aware of your entire tongue.
But it is what it is, not what we wish it would be.
And even if that is the case, it’s still not terribly comforting. Feeling like you don’t fit, seeing it take shape in your life, it’s lonely. And it’s cold.
And it’s easy to begin to feel like not fitting equals not mattering.
No would-be angels here to show us life would be worse off without us. We have to try to imagine it. Or try to imagine how we make things better.
I consider myself a fairly imaginative person – I’m a writer, after all.
But even I have a hard time conjuring that image.
I’m thinking quite a few of you do as well.
And I don’t know what to tell you. If I did, I’d probably be making a mint on the self-help lecture circuit.
The only thing I can think of is that in not fitting, I add friction to a system that was never meant to run smoothly in the first place. The grit in the machine that makes the gears slip in interesting ways.
I have no evidence for this, but it’s a comforting thought.
And we all need something.
Why am I posting about this? Why am I airing for public view something that might do just as well in a private journal entry?
I’m not looking for sympathy. I was never much good at accepting it anyway.
I’m hoping that some one, some where, feeling the same way, reads this and knows you are not alone.
I may never know you, or speak to you, or share a drink.
Our paths may never cross.
But I want you to know you’re not the only one.
You are part of the show.
And it can’t go on without you.
Maybe there’s some comfort in that.
I hope so.