When you really think about it, it probably begins in the womb.

Any caring mom wants to do everything in her power to make sure that her developing fetus or unborn child is safe, warm and loved.  In short, life inside the womb is a good gig.  It’s where you fit … for the time being.

And then, you’re born. 

Suddenly, everything becomes about nurturing you and making sure you hit those developmental milestones as you grow.  Into childhood, your responsible parents do what they can to make sure that you’re healthy and you’re learning and growing in the proper ways.  And with this comes the near obsession of many parents …

… making sure that you’re not a “misfit.” Oh boy, are we really going there?  You bet we are.

Most folks would consider a misfit someone who … quite simply … just doesn’t “fit in.” They’re odd.  They’re a square peg trying to fit into a circle.  There’s something about them that’s slightly “off.”  They’re a banana amid a bunch of grapes on the vine.  They’re a dog amid a room full of cats. 

You know.  They just don’t “belong.”  They’re a “loner” or “odd man out.”

I have absolutely no scientific proof of this, but I am convinced that many if not most of the school shootings that we see are directly linked to young people, particularly boys, who feel isolated and have never really felt a sense of acceptance amid the crowd.  In a changing world of dwindling male role models and morphing gender identities, it’s tough being a boy these days … regardless of money, race or social status.

It’s interesting because I would venture to say that most “misfits” probably feel perfectly normal until they “get with the crowd.”  This is where the trouble begins.  This is where the clashing begins.  People make comments about your hair or how you’re dressed or how you speak or how you walk or whatever.

I mean, if you look at society, it’s ALL about “fitting in.” Fashion, nightclubs, cars, fraternities and sororities, churches even … it’s all about fitting in with your selected crowd … or the crowd that selects you.

Funny.  Here’s a personal anecdote.  When I was a kid, I was pretty much a loner.  I had friends, but I always felt most comfortable in my own head.  I guess most writers are this way.  I’ve always felt that I’ve been my own best company.  Is that weird?

I say this because as a child, even though I was alone a lot, part of me did indeed yearn to be accepted by the crowd.  I was often concerned about what other people “thought about me.”  I wanted people to “like” me. However, I think this changes as you age.  At this point in life, my priorities are different.  My constant thoughts about what “they think about me” have become “what I think about them.”

I no longer disrespect myself by trying to “fit in” with people who couldn’t care less about me.  I’m now focused on what I think about them and do I want to spend any of my precious time “with them.”  No judging.  I’m just sayin’.

People who buy into being “misfits” beat themselves up too much.  Misfits rock.  The thing that makes you a misfit is probably the thing that makes you unique.  It’s the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd.  It’s the thing that will get you hired.  It’s the thing that will get you the girl.  It’s the thing that will make others take notice.

I think many responsible parents are obsessed with getting their sons into sports because they think sports will – perhaps magically – produce a sense of masculinity and keep their sons from “turning gay” or becoming school shooters or troubled misfits.

If only life were that simple.  No?  I suspect some girls may have similar issues.

We need to redefine what it means to be a “misfit.”  It’s funny because when you’re a kid, it’s all about “fitting in,” but when you’re applying for college or looking for a job or even a spouse later in life, it’s all about “standing out” and gaining an edge.

I don’t know.  I just think that some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met have been so-called misfits.  I’m not talking people who engage in violence or anti-social activities.  I’m talking about people who’ve grown into their quirkiness.  I’m talking about folks who are slightly left or right of center and they know it and have become comfortable with their uniqueness.   

Misfits rock.  They’re a party of one.   

The greatest thing about being perceived as somewhat of a misfit is you’ve gained the confidence to say, “This is who I am.  Take it or leave it.”  And at that point, people can decide whether to take you or leave you.  So be it.

Now let me just say here that I’m not talking about people with bad, disgusting habits or boils growing all over their bodies.  God love ‘em, but you know that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about individuality here.  You know what I mean.

It’s a thin line isn’t it?  But I think that’s the point.  You have to know where being a misfit ends and being someone in need of serious counseling begins.  That’s how life works.

Misfits are the spice of society.  Many of them are artists or writers … you know … creative types.  Thank God for them.  They keep things interesting while others are pathologically trying to “fit in.”

And can I just ask … what does “fitting in” mean anyway?  Okay, it means you’re not weird, I get it.  However, who makes THAT rule?  This is precisely why I did not pledge a fraternity back in college.  Nothing against fraternities.  I’m sure they’re fine institutions for those who choose them, but that wasn’t my scene.

At the end of the day, I say you’ve got to be comfortable with yourself before you can be comfortable with others.  You can really only do this by spending time alone and by risking having people dub you a misfit. 

There’s freedom in being a misfit because you’re not beholden to anyone.  Not really. You’re smart enough to follow the rules, but you clearly see the sham and scam of it all.  You might sip the Koolaid, but you don’t chug it down like some dumbass.

Being a misfit rocks.  If you’re a misfit, you are enough … just as you are.



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