The Weakest Reed

He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.

I’m the Sweating Bull in the Queen’s China Closet


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.

So I’m considering being brave and making the leap to merging my online self with my In Real Life self.  For a lot of reasons, but in no small part because fitting-in is no way to live a life.
Five Minute Friday


12 thoughts on “I’m the Sweating Bull in the Queen’s China Closet

  1. I liked you immediately when you winked and said, “the spirit is there if not the letter of the law”. Hehe. Today is my first time doing FMF as a blogger and I have to admit, I went slightly over and made 1 or 2 corrections!

    You are already brave! Writing is one of the most vulnerable things one can do. Sharing that bravery with the world would be a gift AND it gives others permission to do the same!

    I also love your last line: “…fitting-in is no way to live a life” Thanks!

  2. You should!!! You are an amazing writer. You will bless so many!!! Blessings! Found you at FMF.

  3. i love every word. it so resonates with the story i lived for a long time. here’s to belonging or at least not forcing ourselves to fit in anymore.

  4. I am still behind you on coming out of that writer’s “closet”. 😉
    I can tell you ARE brave!
    I loved this FMF. It gave me a chance to write about something on my mind for quite some time. Being brave like you.


    • Thank you for cheering me on. 🙂 I read your post as well. Being ALL IN is hard. Really hard. It seemed easier somehow when we were younger. What changed? I don’t know if it’s necessarily the feeling of having more to lose as much as a midlife realization that the more of ourselves we put into something, the more of ourselves can get beat up when it’s hard. But I think that realization has given way to a second one– one that if we don’t live ALL IN than we end up wasting our lives. I guess we’d rather live a bruised life than a wasted one, eh? 😉

      • Bruised… all the way. 😉 Actually I’m weird… Always have been.. In a sense that I do things backwards. I never found it easy until I got older! But I know why… It’s because I realized… when I “thought” I had a lot to lose I really didn’t know what I needed to lose. I NEEDED to lose myself. “Left behind” already happened for me in a sense – not because He left bur because I chose to leave myself behind and sell out for Christ.
        I see you changed your profile pic in your quest to make the big leap. 🙂 lovely fam you’ve got there! God’s blessings on you all.
        All In with you,

      • Weird is good. I’m run that color, too. In fact, I might consider “normal” an unfavorable adjective in certain contexts. 🙂

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