When we are young, we feel like our uniqueness and weirdness is an impediment, rather than something to be loved. We fear being an outcast in school and sometimes even in our own homes. Feeling like an outsider can be painful.
I love the movie The Breakfast Club because it shows how weird we all are, in our own ways. And we gravitate towards cliques of people that are “like” us, and in many cases, we don’t even like these people. I feel like the characters in the movie break that mold, when they are all stuck together in detention.
In previous posts I talked about having mean girls as friends in high school. And when I broke away from them, they came for me. For me, at the time, it felt like the end of the world. I dreaded going to school. And of course, when we are younger, we don’t fully understand the world and see the big picture just yet. So, we literally do think it is the end of the world.
The truth is, we all want to fit in. But fitting in is different than belonging. To belong somewhere means you feel welcomed and included. It is finding your tribe where you can be you and bring your unique talents and qualities to the group, and they are appreciated. It is being around like-minded, supportive people, who you can support, too.
If you are in school and struggling to find your tribe, know that the small eco-system that you are in today is not like the rest of the world. There are so many people out there and groups that you will find that are your tribe. They will accept you for who you are and love that about you.
I often talk a lot about the dark side of social media and the interwebs on this blog. And there are some serious issues I see cropping up from it that impact our mental health. But it is also a place where you can become more aware of just how big the world is. And there are many opportunities out there to connect with people your age who are like you.
A couple of years ago, my husband’s aunt passed away. She was an incredibly lovely lady who I feel blessed to have had the chance to get to know. She was a beautiful soul. And even in her 80’s she was as smart as a whip. She really knew technology because she worked with kids groups for AOL in the 90s. So if you sent Aunt Gen emails, posted on Instagram and added her to your Tripcast for family vacations, she knew exactly how to use it and interact with you.
During her memorial service, many people who were now adults, spoke about the impact she made on their lives. She was a special lady, so I wasn’t surprised that she touched so many people during her time here. But these were people from the old AOL groups, who had found the groups as kids to connect with kids like themselves.
Aunt Gen had a moderator type role to make sure it truly was a safe place for kids to go to. I think AOL tried to do as much as they could at the time to make it a safe place. As they grew into adults, they stayed in touch. Aunt Gen was a book collector and loved her books. So she was always recommending books to the kids, even when they stayed in touch as adults. She imparted a lot of wisdom to these kids/adults through the years, giving advice and sometimes just a listening ear.
What was fascinating, was that throughout all these years, they stayed in touch and her presence in their life had made a difference. So much so, that even in their 40’s her words and who she was still resonated with them. I was in tears listening to all the amazing things they said about her.
Know that even if you feel like you don’t belong anywhere right now, it is okay. What you are going through is only a chapter, it isn’t your full story.