I read the book Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown. I could relate to her stories about not belonging in your family of origin. Honestly, when I really think about it, I’ve never felt like I belonged anywhere. Let me tell you about my first day in high school. It was pretty uneventful until lunch time. I went to get my food or maybe it was just a soda and a cookie. Anyway, I made my way through the lines and back out in the cafeteria to deal with the fun part of finding a place to sit. There were so many people. I spent a few minutes looking for some people I knew and eventually I find my childhood best friend. By that point, we were barely friends. Not necessarily because we didn’t like each other, but because over the past couple of years, we had grown apart. She was way into the partying scene and I had nothing going on socially. Anyway, she said I could sit with her and her friends. I sat there quietly minding my own business. I was just thankful that I had found a place to sit and could now get through lunch.
A few minutes later, this girl shows up at the table. It was someone I didn’t know, but all the girls at the table were friends with her. The only seat available was the one next to mine. She kept looking at the seat, at me and around the table. It was plainly obvious she didn’t want to sit next to me. One of the other girls says, “I’ll move so you can sit here. I’ll sit next to her so you don’t have to.” I don’t know if the girl thought I was going to rub off on her or something, but she got her wish. She didn’t have to sit next to me. All I remember is how awful I felt and how I kept insulting that girl in my head. this was a person who everyone thought was so cool and amazing. The only thing that came to my mind was what a bitch she was.
I waited for a few minutes, but couldn’t take it anymore so I got up and left the cafeteria. I didn’t know it at the time, but the cafeteria was this huge circle so I ended up going out the wrong door and getting lost in the hallway. Somehow, I either found my way to where I was supposed to go next or someone found me. There was a teacher there who I had known since childhood. I remember sitting in her office with my head down in tears. After my lunch disaster and getting lost, I already felt defeated and knew this wasn’t going to be a fun place. It wasn’t going to be any different than before.
Fast forward to a few years later when I started my current job. I had been working there for several months and we had to do an inservice training. We had to meet at a different place and it involved all our programs so there were a lot of people. Once again, I found myself looking for a place to sit with people I knew, but this time no one even offered. This had happened so many times by this point, but it still really bothered me. I was stuck sitting with people who I didn’t know and most of these people are cliquish until you get to know them. I remember feeling the same way as I did on that first day of high school. I felt alone, left out and embarrassed. The people who I was working with every day didn’t even consider saving a place for me.
Whenever this pops up, I think about how it shouldn’t bother me, but we are social creatures. At some point, every one of us have wanted to feel that we are apart of something. There are still situations where this happens to me, but now it’s so much easier to hide behind your phone. You can be productive or pretend to be busy and be less focused on your surroundings. Normally, focusing on your phone instead of interacting with people is not a good thing, but it helps me in situations like these. Also, finding yourself with people you don’t know is not necessarily a bad thing. Now days when we do inservice trainings, I might mention to a coworker that I want to sit with them and on occasion, one of them will go out of their way to save a seat for me. It may sound trivial, but knowing that someone has saved a place for me means that somehow I belong. I am included. It means that they’ve stopped and considered me and it shows they want me around. That’s what I want for Rosebud. I want her to feel a true sense of belonging in her schools, in her social circles and in her community, but if she ever doesn’t, she will always belong here with me in our home. She is loved for the person she is and her imperfections make her unique and are apart of who she is. Just like all of our imperfections make us who we are. In many ways Rosebud’s journey will be different from mine, but one of the things i wish for her is that she is able to love and accept herself. I don’t want her to have to struggle with that like I have. She is happy, healthy and perfect in my eyes.