When You Don’t Quite Fit

Life sometimes feels like a gigantic puzzle. There is the puzzle of the minutia of your life and then there is the puzzle of EVERYTHING ELSE. I think everyone can relate to the feeling that your own life is made up of hundreds and hundreds of tiny puzzle pieces and each day is spent trying desperately to fit them together (or keep them from falling apart).

I want to spend a moment focusing on the puzzle of EVERYTHING ELSE. I can only speak from my own experience of the world, but I have always, ALWAYS felt like a puzzle piece that doesn’t quite fit into the everything else. Who is with me here… anyone? If this isn’t you you don’t have to bother to keep reading. If this IS you, I’ll relate my story and maybe you’ll find pieces of it familiar, or be comforted by the fact that there are other oddly shaped puzzle pieces out there that don’t know what to do with themselves.

When I was a kid I was… a little weird. And a little… normal. I did well in school, I basically didn’t have a lot of trouble fitting into that box and I had friends. I also enjoyed things like being in the woods alone, playing the piano in one key and singing in another, watching re-runs of the Monkees, Green Acres and the Twilight Zone, drawing pictures of people with no faces and digging out and listening to the 100 year old Regina music box in my parents’ basement. The dog chewed the hands off my only Barbie and I made my mom glue them back on. She looked like a burn victim but I played with her anyway. I loved her so much I combed out all her hair. I re-arranged my bedroom furniture at regular intervals and when one of my mom’s piano students came over that I didn’t want to play with, I’d hide in the crawl space under the roof with a string tied around the lock so I could get back out when they got tired of looking for me.

I did normal stuff too. I rode bikes with my best friend, I swam in the summers and played in the snow. I had sleepovers with my friends, I played in the band for a couple of years at school and I practiced piano every day. I also did a lot of theater. I think I liked it mostly because it felt really good to feel like I was someone else. I have never been someone who garnered much notice in the grand scheme of things. When I was in a show I had some attention, sure, but the attention was on someone else that I got to inhabit for a while, which always felt amazing.

So through pretty much every phase of my life I haven't really stood out all that much, which points to signs that I am totally and completely NORMAL. The thing is, I have always felt deep down that I haven’t belonged anywhere that I have been. In school I was a pretty good student, I was involved in some stuff, I had interests, but I never felt like I fit. Then I went to college for theater and I lived in the city. I didn’t really fit there either. I wasn’t really artsy or quirky enough for the place or the community. I felt like I was too normal. Then I moved to the suburbs and tried on a "normal" life. I have never really fit there either. I’m too artsy for the suburban crowd and too normal for the artsy crowd, so I hover somewhere in-between in the grey area of strangeness... or normalness... I'm not really sure which.

I am a super fortunate human as I have found people along the way that get me. I have collected  friends over the years that understand, and thanks to the magic of the internet, I have been able to get back in touch with many of them. We maintain a web of oddness  that gives me strength on a regular basis.

I have an amazing husband who has understood my quirks for many years and has always been endlessly supportive of every one of them. I’m super thankful for that. He’s the Neville Longbottom to my Luna Lovegood, (but unfortunately I lack the ability to see invisible garden gnomes... dangit). 

So at this point in my life, like Luna, I have grown to be serenely ok with just being a little weird for anyone’s liking. I mostly say the wrong things to people, I mostly feel like I am wearing an invisibility cloak through life, and I have come to terms with the fact that I am simply the weirdly shaped, multi-colored puzzle piece that somehow got mixed into the box with the beautiful landscape. Try as you might to squeeze me into the skyline, or the grassy plain, or the tree tops, I will not quite make it in there without some force. And even then I won’t look quite right.

I think a lot of us spend much of our time trying to fit our pieces into the puzzle that everyone else created. Then we feel bad about ourselves when our edges don't quite line up (or when they blatantly spill out over the sides and are just a crazy mess). So I guess all I am saying is...  know that it's ok. There are many, many more mismatched puzzle pieces out here in the world. I think it's probably the case that the majority of us feel this way, but don't talk about it much. It just seems easier to try to make it work, as awkward as it might be for us on the inside.

So from one mismatched puzzle piece to another... it's alright.  You can be normal and strange at the same time. You can embrace your weird edges. You can be ok with whatever bright color you are that doesn't work into the landscape. And just imagine the beautiful, amazing puzzle we'd make if all the oddball pieces made it into the same big box. Even if all our edges don't quite line up. 

That would truly be a truly amazing thing.

© 2017 Krysta Bernhardt. All Rights Reserved.