As I was driving home from a function the other night, I couldn’t shake the familiar feeling bubbling inside of me. Although it was a new group of people, it was a situation I have lived over and over again.
I’m not a fan of big crowds or parties. I feel unsettled when I am surrounded, when the fog of people overtakes my ability to see the horizon.
Take me to a bar, and you will find me sitting at a table toward the back, watching. That’s what I do, I watch and I wait. I’m always open to talk, to share, to listen, but I wait. Someone approaches and we sit and have a conversation, in which I listen and support.
When I got home that evening, I wrote this:
I just don’t fit in.
I just don’t.
I never have and I never will.
To fit in, is to blend in.
To blend in is to be ordinary.
I was never meant for ordinary,
I was destined for extraordinary.
How do I know?
The extraordinary never fit in, ever.
I reread this several times, and every time I read the line, “I was destined for extraordinary,” my stomach turned.
Who do I think I am, calling myself extraordinary? What am I? I’m certainly not ordinary; I know this for certain.
Accepting greatness is painful. It’s a process. It goes against everything we are taught to be—humble, quiet, unassuming, self-deprecating. We are taught to get along with others, be a team player, be a part of the group.
Yet, there came a time when I knew this was not my lot in life—to just fly under the radar. I knew from a young age I was different—I was great.
This greatness comes with a responsibility. Acceptance of the greatness within causes a shedding, a withdrawal from everything that isn’t extraordinary—that includes people, things and life’s circumstance.
Extraordinary sits alone at the lunch table, at the desk at night, on the porch contemplating.
That’s okay. I would rather assume the responsibility of not fitting in, so I may stand out and be heard.
This recent night out, reminded me of the first time I felt this way, that I felt my extraordinary difference: I was two and a half years old.
I was giving my hands a bath in the sand box of my daycare playground. I felt something wedged in the hard soil beneath the sand. I dug with both hands and pulled a small figurine of a girl from the earth. I examined it like an archeologist. I can still picture the etchings on her face and dress. The figure was hollow inside, with just enough space for a finger.
“A finger puppet!” I distinctly remember thinking, “I remember these,” with the same nostalgic rumination of an 80-year-old woman (in my two years, I had not seen a puppet like this).
I waved it in the air, attempting to gain the attention of the other children. They glanced in my direction, before turning away in disinterest. They were too busy dumping sand over their heads.
I couldn’t understand why they didn’t want to share in the excitement of my discovery, and relish in the beauty and rarity of this treasure.
This experience at two years of age, laid the foundation for my life.
I sit and watch people dump sand over their heads, every day. I observe them; sometimes I join the hail storm of dirt for a purpose—so I know first hand and I can relate to their experiences.
In every crowd, in every group, in every situation something begins to ripple inside of me—the questions.
Why? Why am I here, in this group? Why do they believe what they believe? Why do I believe what I believe? What is the purpose here?
The questioning has led to learning, to seeing, to understanding.
Being an observer has become my work. I can recognize in an instant, the ones who hate the sand, the ones who love it, the ones who don’t know why they are doing it, but don’t know what else they would do or where they would go, and the ones who do it so they aren’t lonely.
I have come to accept I was never meant to fit in, so I can be here—I can be the person who offers support and others know right where to find me. I can connect and relate completely.
I use the example of a lighthouse on a shore. The lighthouse never moves. It does its job, lighting the way for the boats to find their way home.
What would happen if the lighthouse was in constant motion, shutting off its power source whenever it felt like it?
Some of us are meant as boats, and some as the guide for the boats. The lighthouse is not a boat, it would sink if it tried to be, yet without the lighthouse, the boats could not see the land in order to navigate home and dock safely. When I’m at a function, or a bar, or anywhere, I stay still. I don’t fit in on purpose, in order to be the lighthouse.
A while ago, a woman approached me and began to tell me how a daily inspiration I had written months before, had touched her and helped guide her in a decision. This person I did not know was standing in front of me reciting what I had written.
I was taken aback for just a moment and then comforted, validated—not fitting in was actually standing in—standing in who I am is extraordinary.
That night as I sat at my computer alone, I wrote,
Be the voice, let others be the echo.
I am the voice of my playground, the lighthouse of my shores. There are many of us, the archeologists of the playgrounds and the lighthouses of shores all over the world, guiding boats home, to their own homes.
I don’t fit in. I never have and I never will because my voice needs to be heard, my light seen so that I may help illuminate the ocean and remind you,
You have your own voice, you just need to listen to it, and in the process you will light yourself up and see, you are extraordinary too.