A simple question innocently asked by my son, “Mum, did you fit in when you were my age?”. The flood of painful emotions that washed over me and threatened to overwhelm me was shocking. The truth is that “No. I did not fit in at your age. I have not really fit in anywhere, at any age”. There is only one exception to that, and that is when I am with my husband, I fit in with him and for that I am forever thankful and feel blessed.
I am sure that millions of other people around the world from all walks of life have experienced similar emotions at some stage or another, but that does not stop me feeling all alone. For most of us lucky enough to have been born in the “first world” we want to be accepted more than almost anything else, to know that we have a place where we are wanted and fit.
Until recently I had never experienced that feeling. I have not had a family outside of my actual household, while yes I have blood relations, I do not have a relationship with them. There has never been somewhere other than my own home with my husband that I have truly felt accepted and wanted.
I have spent my life people pleasing, begging to be liked and needed. Spending my time and energy on trying to force my own individual piece of the human puzzle into a space that wasn’t shaped right for it.
Things are slowly becoming different, I am learning to accept that not everyone is born to fit in perfectly – sometimes we are put in the wrong box with the wrong puzzle, we can spend our whole life searching trying to find the right place, but there isn’t any space where we will fit because we are looking in the wrong place. Many of us are not ever going to be naturally popular, we lack that “it” factor, whatever that is!
So instead of begging for people to like me, I am now slowly learning to look for those who want me. Looking for the ones who’s puzzle pieces match my own instead of trying to squeeze in where I am not needed, wanted, and will never fit. You see, these lovely new friends are different from those I’ve tried to make before – they are mostly elderly, but they are real, and they are beautiful because they are loving from their heart. I love them, and they love me, and my boys.
I have found friends who are much more than that, they are my family.
Unfortunately it doesn’t mean I never feel lonely, I don’t have many friends my own age and that can be very isolating at times – and now there is a new challenge for me to face.
My son, at 11 is starting to experience this same inner loneliness. He has tried to make friends, but has failed to break through the ice, even at Christian Worship, somewhere he should be welcomed and accepted, he is bullied and told to go away. He has older friends, the same people that have become my friends and family have also become his, but at 11 it really seems so important to have friends your own age too.
It has taken me 34 years to start to feel like I fit in, and I feel so sick to my stomach to see him facing the same tragic feeling.
How can I help him? Telling him that friends can be from all ages will not fix his loneliness, and I worry that telling him too often is going to make him feel guilty that he is lonely, despite having older ones who love him as a friend.
Here I am, at 34, with one, possibly two people that could be counted as “peers” in my rather small friend group. What do I know about making friends, what am I meant to do to help him through this hard time in his own life?
Maybe I should take out an advertisement in the local paper.
Wanted: Friends for 11yo Male.
Sounds wrong doesn’t it? But what else is a mum to do when so many kids these days are not taught to include those who live on the fringe? To include the ones who aren’t naturally popular, who aren’t into all the same things as they are?
Where do you fit, if you don’t fit in? Can anyone tell me?