Are you grey living in a black & white world? Do you sometimes feel like a speck of red paint that accidentally made its way into Jackson Pollock’s Lavender Mist? Or are you that kid in the picture?
Lemme tell ya… you are not alone.
Some may not notice this, but I’ve always had trouble fitting in. Sure, I can mingle at networking and charity events, I like people, work one-on-one with clients for hours at a time, and can easily find stuff to talk about. My friends age range goes up to like…. 70-something (and they’re not my grandparents). However, most people subconsciously like to categorize others. It helps them navigate things from a social perspective. Think about it. You’re in a room full of people that you barely know and you try to spot those who you might appear to have something in common with. In the process, you eliminate some people from your search because you outwardly categorize them into the “no similarities” box. I suppose a similar process would be the dating game. You go on a date, try to find things in common, and figure out if you like the person enough to go out on a second date. Whether you realize it or not, you’re analyzing and categorizing bits of your interaction the whole time, at least on a subconscious level. It goes a little something like this….
“Do we have the same values? Check. Do we like the same movies? Check. Do we have the same religion? Check… sort of. Do we both want kids? Not sure. Do we have the same political views? Errrrr… wrong! Total opposites. He’s really cute, though. Maybe we can find a happy middle. OMG the way he holds his fork really bugs me. (20 minutes go by) His laugh is weird. Can I leave yet?”
Sound familiar? Heck, I’m pretty sure I went through a similar process on a date a few years back.
I propose that this internal categorization helps us feel a sense of control over our social lives and the outcome of our relationships. We sometimes do this stuff instead of just letting things go with the flow. I’m a social psychology nerd, so this is interesting to me on both a scientific and personal level. In others, this internal need for control gets thrown out of whack when I enter the circle. People (usually those in the younger crowd or have insecurity issues) try to fit me in a box and figure me out… which is dang near impossible. Here’s a few examples:
1) I don’t really ascribe to any particular religion, even though “God” is important to me. Sure, I mainly practice one and love my congregational family, but I truly consider myself a student of all. I don’t think my views are superior to anyone else’s. I don’t really think there’s a “right” way and a “wrong” way… there are just ways. If someone disagrees with me, it’s not like this huge deal breaker. I don’t think there’s a “one size fits all” religion and I’m not about to try to shove others into a spiritual box. If you look at my bookshelf or ask me about my spiritual beliefs, you’ll figure this out pretty quickly. This usually makes people uncomfortable, because we live in a world where we want everyone to be the same religion, the same political party, the same sexuality, the same everything. We want black and white because it’s easy– it’s easy to control and it’s easy to understand. However, I live in the gray zone. It’s funny how God liberated from the confines of a religious box scares people. My personal thinking is, if there is an entire palette of colors out there, why only use one to paint the picture?
2) I have many interests… and they’re all way different from one another. I’m not afraid to go after something new or test my limits. This means I don’t really fit a stereotype. You can find me sweating like a Banshee in the gym, sipping coffee at a bookstore, researching in the library, dressed in business casual at Board meetings and networking events, and performing in the concert hall (though my serious music days are kinda over). Just when people think they have me figured out, I go pick up some new hobby out of nowhere. I don’t intentionally see how diverse I can be, it’s just the way I am. I enjoy the restless pursuit of that which is life. Some have trouble relating to this. For example, when I left the vocal program at Baylor, a lot of music peeps though we no longer had stuff in common. As if I hated music or something and could no longer talk about the scores we studied for years in class. This assumption was really weird to me. Like, since when am I no longer a musician!? Again… people like black and white. I am grey, y’all. ;)
3) I develop at a very. fast. rate. If you know me, you know what I mean. I feel like I entered the world at age 80. I don’t really have any thoughts on “past lives” or “reincarnation,” but sometimes the weight I feel the need to carry makes me wonder haha. I grow quickly as a person. I go through stuff and I let it sharpen me. I’ve been through a lot for someone my age and it’s made me who I am (though I know some who have been through way more than I can imagine). It’s a very fast-paced life I live. It’s not easy, but I’ve come to terms with it and have chosen to view it as a blessing rather than a burden. I suppose this can confuse people that are close to me. In the past, it has surprisingly caused jealousy issues if this way of living leads to success… but luckily I’m around more secure people nowadays.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
The road to realizing your potential and becoming All That You Are can be a lonely one. It’s not easy being different, but it’s worth it.
BE YOU! Celebrate your unique qualities and gifts! Live your life to the fullest, no matter how different or out of place you may feel. Don’t chase people. Don’t try to make people to like you. Don’t betray yourself by trying to fit into a box. When you allow yourself to truly be who you are and love yourself for it… the right people will cross your path. :)
Let the awesomeness within you shine.