Thursday, December 13, 2007

Does anyone really fit in?

You have, of course, deduced by now that I am different, dear reader. Special. Unique. Just plain weird. I'd be glad to enumerate for you the ways, but there's not enough room on the internets. And I've pretty much gotten used to being the odd man out, often literally.

But by the hammer of Thor! Can a dude catch a break?

This is supposed to be the time of year when there'll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting and carolling out in the snow -- you know, fun stuff. But for the last couple weeks, there's been weird stuff going on at work (strange conversations, tough budget decisions, etc.), weird stuff going on with friends (health issues, job issues, relationship issues, etc.), weird stuff going on with family (health issues mostly -- and all of it can be addressed, thank God), and very few marshmallows for toasting.

And through it all, I just feel like I'm hanging out there on my own.

I kind of wonder if my alone life has simply become a lonely life as a symptom of the holiday season. But I don't really think having a girlfriend/wife/lover/partner/whatever you kids are calling them these days would make all that much of a difference. So I don't think it has all that much to do with my singleness.

And I wonder if it has to do with my paradoxical self-image, which sends all manner of messages to others -- at times gregarious and confident, at others paralyzed by doubt and self-criticism. Has that gotten in the way of work and friendships and family and whatever?

In a very real way, I think the time in my life that I was happiest was my first trip to West Africa, 5,000 miles away from friends, family, work, and home. When I was in Ghana, I was physically odd -- a white face among a sea of black faces. Everything was foreign to me; I had no expectation of fitting in. Maybe that's why I'm so looking forward to my trip to India in a couple weeks -- to find that opportunity again where I don't fit in so that my not-fitting-in-ness doesn't trouble and vex me so much?

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