I’ve never felt I fit. Anywhere. I grew up in rural Missouri, and as a young girl would obsess, “Where do I fit? Where do I fit? Where do I fit?” The phrase would ricochet around my skull like a pinball.
I left Missouri as fast as I could; surely there were other places where a girl like me would fit. I moved to Tokyo, for some reason choosing a place notoriously difficult to fit into to try to find a place to fit. It solidified my truth of “not-fitting”. A psychotherapist might intervene here, and say my unconscious belief system of “not-fitting” was perpetuating the issue in reality, but honestly, I’m a believer in soul’s purpose. And I believe I was nurturing my soul. My soul never fit. I was helping it not fit.
How did I not fit? Each of us has our unique ways of not fitting. For me, I didn’t understand or want to play the game of man-made barriers between people. Men are higher. Women are lower. My American culture is better than the Japanese culture. Someone poor is less than someone rich. All of these labels and barriers were patently absurd to me. I couldn’t play the game. Ever. I still can’t.
After a few years in Tokyo, I left Japan and traveled S.E. Asia for a year, glorying in the incredible experience, flitting from exotic city to quirky countryside, from the Himalayas to tropical beaches, of course not fitting anywhere.
Next, I lived in England. My seven years in London marked the only time that I came close to feeling even vaguely “home”. London was like an eccentric uncle who happily invited you into his velvet parlour and fully accepted you for all your craziness, because he was a misfit, too.
When I divorced and lost my visa, it felt like I was being thrown out of Eden. I returned to the U.S. after many years abroad. I knew only the rural Midwest. I moved to Seattle, and I did not fit in there either. Just in case there still were places I might fit, but I just hadn’t found them yet, I kept trying out new regions in this fight or flight journey I was on. Not fitting comes with a level of despair that is inexplicable to those who fit. It’s a profound hopeless homelessness.
I’d fly away for six months or a year, but I kept coming back to Seattle — San Francisco, London, Colorado, London, Budapest, London, Boston. I had to see for myself, truly and deeply, that there was no place where I would fit. I HAD to experience it. I regret none of it. I have lived a wildly dimensional life of not-fitting! I write about my experiences in my semi-autobiographical novels, Earth and Air.
Today I live on 80 glorious acres in Oregon. It’s been more than two decades of trying to fit back into a country I never fit into in the first place. When finally during a recent meditation, I was given the great gift of grace in understanding I’d never ever fit, and that not-fitting was part of my purpose, a great peace descended over me. I don’t fit and that’s OK.
I know a lot of people reading this also feel they don’t fit. I meet people all the time who feel like they don’t fit anywhere. And now there seems to be a whole slew of kids being born who are having a helluva time fitting. I meet their parents regularly; kids who have real difficulties living in this world, sometimes the children are labeled, sometimes they are just called difficult.
What if some of us are NOT MEANT TO FIT? What if there’s a purpose to not fitting? What if we were put here for a reason? Here’s the profoundly good news about not fitting:
- It forces you to dig deep into yourself, to find core strength you never thought possible. When you don’t fit, you have to fight hard to find home inside yourself. Not fitting becomes a spiritual journey. It’s brutally hard work, and you’d never take that internal journey if you fit comfortably in this world. You needed to be forced to look inside.
- You are forced to understand what you DO believe. If you don’t fit into the mainstream belief system, this forces you to really get clear about what you do believe. This can be a lifetime journey, but it’s deeply exciting and fulfilling.
- Not-fitting gives you great compassion for people who live outside the mainstream. You meet someone from Nigeria in the U.S., and your heart opens wide to their experience. You know what it feels like to be on the outside. You understand the displacement of the people from Syria. You get what it might mean to be transgendered. You have great compassion for anyone who doesn’t fit.
- You have the potential to create something new, something radical, something fundamentally different. What if you were meant not to fit? What if a whole group of people who do not fit is what this toxic world needs? What if you are meant to create new progressive systems? What if you wrote a book that changed the world? So, let’s say you see things organically, holistically. You have a soul that understands sustainability on a fundamental level. What if you’re not fitting into a world that isn’t sustainable is exactly what the world needs? What if it is your purpose to bring sustainability to the rest of us? What if you’re a hero(ine)?
- Think about all of the amazing people who have been admired throughout time, the greats who have changed the world, Albert Einstein, Vincent Van Gogh, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, Emily Dickinson, Helen Keller. Think about how they did not fit. Realize deeply that you are in good company.