This month's kit, BELONGING, is one where the theme pulls at my heartstrings in a big way.
I like being different. I relish the chance to be weird, to be authentically and completely me.
Of course, that wasn't always the case.
Like most 13 year old girls, I was once a shy, anxious, awkward teen who was completely, hopelessly crushed out on a boy named Jeffrey Friedman who had no idea I was alive. I was skinny, had questionable skin and was definitely not part of the in-crowd.
In high school, I even got a cake for my friend Janine for her sweet 16 and addressed it to her from 'the clique'. When asked by the assistant principal who drove me to pick up the cake (don't ask) if we were the 'in clique', I replied, 'we're the out clique'. I loved my friends in high school - and we really stuck by each other. But we were a group of girls who didn't fit the mold, even in a tiny school with 140 total students in all grades. We were immigrants or children of immigrants, explored NY on our own when our classmates were living insular lives in the suburbs, we were questioners in a system where questions were not the norm.
Time marched on, I found my voice, and discovered that in fact I always 'belonged' - I found kindred spirits that spoke to me at every stage. And it turns out those kindred spirits are all around - one of my closest friends now is a woman I met in the parking lot at Target while we were taking our kids out of our cars - she had a political bumper sticker on her stroller and I knew what she stood for.
I found out that weird is COOL. I love that I have strange interests - Bollywood films, crafting, dog shows, entering recipe contests, rhyming, choral music. Because I always find kindred spirits. Whether it's my moms group, our SFTIO members, dog lovers in the street, I now appreciate the uniqueness that makes up ME, and I very rarely feel alone.
I get to live a big life, dig in, do what I love!
I found out a few weeks ago that Jeffrey Friedman passed away suddenly earlier this year. Even after almost 30 years, it came as quite a shock. I spent a good deal of grade school and middle school wishing he knew I was alive. Now I just hope that his life, short as it was, was filled with the love and contentment that comes finding his kindred spirits.
I fit in by choosing my audience. And when I don't fit in, I embrace my differences - because they make my life fun, wacky, strange and beautiful.
How do you choose to fit in? I'd love to hear from you.