Upon reflecting some on what I wrote for sixth grade (read that here), it occurred to me that I had actually transformed into that chameleon that I so desperately wanted to be. (If you missed that one, you can find it here.)
I really thought I reached that level much later in life, but in all honesty, the proof is shown during the misery of sixth grade.
Earlier in my childhood, I wanted to blend in more because of obvious physical differences in behavior. But as I got older, there were many emotional and social issues that I struggled with that just weren’t addressed.
So that while all of these struggles were happening in my life, I never found a way to share them with others. I further isolated myself by not talking about them with parents, other family members or friends.
There was fear of being further misunderstood. Fear that others weren’t going to care. Fear of being ridiculed or that whatever I was going through would just be dismissed.
Part of it was having trouble verbalizing what was bothering me. That first manifested in being hypersensitive to certain things and being bothered by it, but somehow others didn’t seem to have the same issues. So I quickly thought that maybe I was making too much of certain situations.
Then later as I had trouble maintaining conversations with people and contributing my own opinions (find that post here), I really started having trouble figuring out what was worth sharing. To a degree I felt like I needed to be prompted. I wasn’t really the kind of person to voluntarily share every little detail of the day. I’ve met those people and usually wished they’d stop talking. But often times I felt like I needed an invitation or a direct opening before talking. That would be my cue that someone actually wanted to hear my side of things.
And then the biggest factor is just not valuing myself enough. Feeling that what I’m going through is secondary.
You know, we learned in church to put others before ourselves, to not be selfish. And I guess, to a degree, I somehow took that to mean that I needed to carry that out in all areas. But neglecting my own needs wasn’t the answer. In fact, as I made efforts to serve other people, I needed to put myself in a position to allow others to serve me. We need to serve and help each other. It can’t be one-sided. We need to live in community.
- And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. (1 Corinthians 12:26, New American Standard Bible)
- Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)
- Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
We aren’t islands. Our lives aren’t meant to be isolated. And yet, fear gets its grip on us and pulls us down.
As I found ways to blend in more, trying to be more “normal” (whatever that actually means), I became so focused on what I lacked in comparison to others. I was looking at how they seemed to be better than me. And I failed to notice and acknowledge that what made me different could actually be viewed as positives. (I’ve addressed the problems with comparisons before, as well, here.) Those differences weren’t viewed as strengths yet. That’s been a lifelong journey.
As musician Ed Sheeran emphasizes in this speech: “Even if you have quirks and weirdness, you shouldn’t be worried about it at all. Just be yourself, because there’s no one in the world who can be a better you than you. Be yourself, embrace your quirks.”