This post is a part of Five Minute Friday hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker. I may have slightly exceeded the 5 minute limit, but you’ll have to forgive me as I was trying to reach the keyboard through my 2,3 and 4 year-olds’ bodies. But it’s probably the least-edited and most spontaneously written piece I’ve done in a long time, so the spirit is there if not the letter of the law. 😉 Today’s prompt was “Brave.”
What I like about writing under a pen name is that I can write about whatever I feel and I’m not penalized in the real world. I can write about the gore, the chaos, the heights of elation, the depths of despair of whatever is going on in my life. And I can walk into a coffee date with my girlfriends or a birthday celebration with my extended family or pre-school pick-up and not wonder if everyone is judging me for the way that I just poured out myself. My emotions, my responses, my thoughts, my experiences are entirely my own. I don’t have to modify them to make them palatable for any particular audience.
I have heard articulated (maybe by Brene Brown?) the difference between fitting in and belonging. Essentially, belonging is connecting with people who accept you exactly for who you are, faults and all. Messes and all. And fitting-in is connecting with a group in which you need to modify parts of who you are in order to gain membership. Suck in, shave off, cover-up, stretch thin, round-peg-in-square-hole yourself into a relationship with someone. I don’t do that well. I try, but I don’t usually pull it off very gracefully.
When I try to fit in, I feel a lot like an emotional bull in a very proper, very Queen of England-esque china closet. In order to not break the very carefully preserved sensibilities of whatever group I’m in, I just hold my breath and sit very still. I smile and nod and feel a little gleam of sweat developing, hoping no one will notice my long, pointy horns looming dangerously close to their crystal chandelier or my fleshy rump protruding over their expensively upholstered chair arm. Usually, I can pull it off for awhile. But then I’ll get up to leave and not quite make it out of the room without knocking over someone’s favorite crystal vase, profusely apologizing and then wondering why I ever dared squeezing myself into that delicately-appointed parlor in the first place.
I’ve spent most of my life being afraid of there being just a little too much ME in the room. But maybe I’ve been spending too much time in the wrong rooms. And perhaps some of those rooms need a little shaking up anyway. Maybe some dashed crystal would actually multiply the rainbows on the wall. Or perhaps there are just a few too many china closets to begin with in this world.
But all in all, what I really want is to belong, not fit in. I don’t want to spend more time editing than creating, holding back than connecting, being who someone wants me to be than who I am.