To everyone who feels like a misfit,

Maybe, it’s because you see other people’s eyes glaze over whenever you try to share something that you’re passionate about. Maybe, it’s because every time you attend a social event, it reminds you of the pit you felt in your stomach when you would scan the lunch room wondering where you should sit.

Maybe, it’s your physical appearance that sets you apart, and causes new people you encounter to comment on how you’re different… Wow. You’re really tall

or short,

or have really red hair,

or are bald,

or have a lot of tattoos

or are fat.

I understand what you hear them saying.

It’s the subtext of the comment about the thing. This is the thing you’re most self conscience about physically. No matter how hard it is to deal with though, it is not nearly as difficult to grapple with as the pieces of you that people don’t see right away. The are the parts that make up who you are at your core.

It’s where you’re most vulnerable, and feel the most rejection when someone points it out.

That’s weird.

Uhhh no. Can’t say that I’ve ever thought that before.

What are you talking about?

You can tell what strangers are thinking with the way their eyes pause, or scrutinize, or brush by you without really seeing all of who you are. Maybe you’ve learned to adapt so it’s not as noticeable. You tuck away that part of yourself. You tell yourself…

You’re different.

Why are you here?

You don’t belong.

You’re a misfit.

The physical parts of yourself, have been adapted. You slouch or wear tall shoes. You dye your hair, or wear a wig. You wear long sleeves or lose weight. Anything you can to make the thing less noticeable. You tell yourself, “Maybe if they don’t notice the difference on the outside, I can blend in better on the inside.” How you’re different still stings, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve recognized those differences.

How do I talk to you about belonging when a lot of the time, I feel like I belong in Rudolf’s Christmas special… socially stranded on the Island of Misfit toys?

I’ll tell you what I tell myself when I am struggling to find my place. When I feel judged for being my authentic self.

The painful memories of being a misfit have shaped your empathy for others. It’s why you seek to include those on the outskirts. You make eye contact, and invite people to sit by you. Feeling alone is why you’re so passionate about advocating for social equality. You root for the underdog. You want others to feel inclusion, because you also long to belong.

If today it’s challenging to find a sense of belonging physically, you can find it digitally. We are connected through social media as a world no previous generation has been. The connection gives us a way to belong. When misfits connect and collaborate, they are no longer alone.

Genealogy Jen’s Challenge of the Week – You know that thing that makes you different? There’s probably a Facebook group for people passionate about it run by one of my friends. Join one like OctoNation, the largest octopus fan club, The Harry Potter and the Order of The Planners, or Cool Freaks’ Wikipedia Club.

I wrote this as part of Hoagies’ Gifted Education blog hop series. Click to read more about The Power of Belonging.

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