Finding the Right Fit

It’s understandable that people seek out a group of kindred souls; by nature, we are (well, most of us) a sociable bunch. We like being with others of our kind. The fault lines that individuals select to demarcate their posse are as varied as the colors on a color wheel. But what about those times when your color simply isn’t offered?

Whether it’s Santa Barbara or Washington or anywhere else on the globe, people come together using all sorts of crazy criteria: Lulu Lemon blondes, earth mamas, cycle guys, My Little Pony aficionados, Trekkies, rebels, neighbors, opera snobs, you name it, there’s most likely a group for it. But, what if you don’t know where your group is? Or what it is? What if you’ve tried inserting yourself into a variety of groups and none seems to fit the way you hoped?

I know a menu of people—nice people—who can’t seem to find a comfortable place to land. Sure, they can contort themselves, temporarily, to get along with the other school parents or coworkers or those with whom they are politically aligned, but it just never quite seems to “fit.” Looking around, it appears as if everyone in the group is fully embracing the gestalt of who and what they are, but what about you?

Personally, I’ve spent plenty of time enjoying (or not) the activities of groups where I kinda sorta fit in, but not really. On occasion, I’ve even lead groups which I regularly considered dropping out of! Who does that?!? Apparently, I do. Don’t get me wrong: this is not a diatribe against cliques or a paean to the Individual. Rather, it is an acknowledgement of just how afloat some of us can feel much of the time.

As often as I may have wanted to qualify as a Lulu Lemon blonde, I never belonged. Truth be told, they’re not so great, anyway, but part of me worries about discounting all these routes to association because I feel awkward about being there. Is it that I don’t belong or that I’m loathe to get typecast or something else, entirely?

Perhaps this poses a greater dilemma for women than it does for men. After all, friendships and group dynamics seem to play a much greater role in women’s lives than they do in men’s. But, perhaps I am wrong. And, while most women are not utterly obsessive about joining a pack, I believe it’s fair to say that it’s female interactions that drive so much of social interaction in this society. The men mostly reap what we happen to sew, although I know they thoroughly enjoy spending time with their pack, too.

So, back to my original question: what can you do when you haven’t found a spot on which to land, fully comfortable with the group you have chosen? Truth is, these groups change and shift and morph as much as our personal needs do. We need to realize that it’s ok to only semi-fit in. It’s ok to hover on the fringes. Sure, you may never be fully embraced by the self-identified pack leaders, but I’m willing to bet that they have their own doubts about belonging, too. As Re-booters, we may need to accept the possibility that, absent one or two very special circumstances, we’re never going to feel fully a part of any assembly. And, in fact, this may be a very good thing. Group minds and collective thinking have an insidious way of snuffing out an individual’s creativity, so the trade off of living life as an independent thinker may be that you aren’t fully vested.

How does that make you feel?

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