Before I go on, take a look back at my post about how having confidence shapes you here.
There have many instances in my life, as far back as I can remember, where I stand still in a group of people and realise I’m a bit different. At primary school, my friends were going to their beach houses for holidays and proudly speaking of their time away collecting shells and riding waves. Then there was me, standing up quite shyly in front of the class, talking about sleeping in swags (no tents, or rarely a tent to house my family in for the night on our trips away), going to bush pubs to play pool with my dad, driving through fast-flowing waterways in our dust-covered Troopie (who Dad fondly named Bertha) and never, EVER, was there a mention of hotels, room service, theme parks, shopping or expensive restaurants in my show-and-tell stories. And no one paid attention because no one could understand what this experience was like at a young age without actually living it. Our trips were about the experience. Firing guns into the central Australian red sand, being so covered in flies you’d have to wear a net over your hat permanently, eating food out of eskis for weeks on end, being “showered” by our mums in rivers with buckets of fresh (freezing) water, playing with Aboriginal children at the local shopping mall (a pub, a general store and a petrol pump in the middle of nowhere) and your Mum being asked “how much for the two girls?” by an Aboriginal family, being grateful for a pub lunch every so often, waking up in the middle of the night and realising that you are sleeping right underneath a sprinkle of stars that no one else can see from this viewpoint except you. Waking up to bacon and eggs cooking on a fire and not having any electricity to use but the motor of the Troopie to power the cassette player. Our childhood experiences were exceptional and I felt out-of-place, maybe a little misunderstood, talking about them as a child when no one knew where Innamincka or Tibooburra were. No one my age had heard of Burke and Wills or the Dig Tree. No one cared. I know where I’d choose to travel along if I was given the Oodnadatta Track or the Tube in London. But as I grew up, I realised that my experiences and their uniqueness were helping me to feel more comfortable with being me.
As I became a teenager, I had accepted that I wasn’t like any of the typical girls who went to the private school I went to. No overseas trips to boast about, I didn’t own horses, I lived in an average suburb and we never knew any sort of extravagance. Being taken out for dinner to a restaurant was a great night out in itself. I never felt hard done by, or like we were missing out on anything. You don’t miss what you don’t know, right? I was totally into music from a young age and my taste took a few people at school by surprise. My choice of instruments to learn, bagpipes to name the most “strange”, shocked and stunned. I began to feel not so much out-of-place, but comfortable with being me.
I didn’t rock the in fashions, but still looked respectable. I didn’t drink underage or do drugs (I still don’t even know how to smoke a cigarette- an “achievement” I’m significantly proud of) so anyone would think I was a bit weird. I can see some of my old friends saying “What have you been doing all your life if you haven’t been to Thailand or Bali?” but I’m just happy where I am and always have been. All my friends were following trends. I never did really. There comes a point in time where you go from feeling “out-of-place” to being “happy in your own skin”. And it’s a momentous milestone I think. I think reaching this new-found place in your life can make all the difference between living a happy life and living life a tortured soul.
As I became an adult, I was still getting comments, even from family members “Geez you’re weird, but I still love you”. Over silly things like what I found funny. My favourite songs. What I wanted to wear. Comments I’d make and things I’d cry over. Suggestions for things to do on a weekend. It’s so much easier now to shrug those feelings away, the ones that seek to separate me from the person I am comfortable being now.
I was thinking about how much I’ve changed as a person and as a grown woman since having my two children, since I became a nurse and more recently, since I started my own business. And I think that when you feel out-of-place, you can think about it from two perspectives. You can feel gawky in your own skin and not feel snug being who you are and showing people who you are. Or you can take a good look around and remember that not one person is the same from the next and we all have flaws and strengths. Maybe the people you associate with aren’t being true to themselves and that makes you feel out-of-place, because you are forthcoming, upfront and confident in how you feel about your place in the world. As the old advice goes, you only feel the way others make you feel. You only feel this way because you accept the way others treat you. And of course, if others treat you differently and you don’t have the emotional capacity to be strong and be yourself, you will most definitely feel out-of-place. I really believe in accepting people for who they are and loving them regardless.
Surely there is something to love about everyone. I embrace the weird, the unique, the peculiar, the amazing, the bizarre and the uncanny in everyone. I don’t expect the same good fortune back but at least I know where I’m at and where I’m headed. I like the same comforts as the next person, but I’m content and always ready for a challenge.
So in answer to the Little Red Fan who asked about a time I felt out-of-place, I can’t give you one. I’m happily living a life that allows me to be me, to be my quirky self. I wouldn’t trade it for routine for one minute!
When have you felt awkward and out-of-place? Have you learnt to accept what you cannot change? I’d love to hear about how you have overcome feelings like this to become the brilliant, inspiring people you are today.
- Gratitude (forphilip.com)
- 13. Coober Pedy & The Oodnadatta Track (highwaydreams.net)
- Me, My Blog and I (justonegirl123.wordpress.com)
- Relationship Intelligence: The Key to Picking a Life Partner. ~ Mark Wolynn (elephantjournal.com)