Fact: I try too hard to fit myself into places, spaces, expectations, communities, and good graces I really do not, by nature of my personality, fit into. It's a horrible, self-sabotaging reflex born out of a need for approval and validation I didn't receive as a child and teenager, and the messages I actually received instead. Yes, it really does come down to Daddy + Abandonment + Being The Oddball in School + Not Being Black Enough + Continously Having to Be HyperAware of and Adapt to My Environment in Order to Survive + Lack of Identity and Autonomy issues. You know, all the things therapy helps you discover about yourself, patterns of behavior, and your lived experiences.
I can, at the very least, say that while I've grown and improved significantly in this area as I've entered my thirties, it still proves to be my Achilles heel, the thorn in my side, the cup I can't pass no matter how hard I try. This leads me to believe that this habit is also born out of a universal human desire to connect and belong, a complex aspect of Human Nature that gets messy when not nurtured properly. We ALL want to fit into something or somewhere or with someone on some level, do we not? Perhaps this is part of each person's individual evolution, to be worked through over the course of a lifetime, and not something we can extricate ourselves from completely.
I was speaking about this with a dear friend today. I was sharing my fears over leading an art based workshop on my own, something I've never done before and have the opportunity to do soon. I expressed that at the root of the discomfort and panic I was experiencing, was this feeling that I don't belong or that I no longer "fit" into certain spaces or with the communities I've been a part of over the last few years. I feel a shift happening and well, shifts like this trigger panic. She of course knocked some perspective into me with her advice, like as per usual. I can always count on her for a reality check.
"Why are you trying to fit in? FUCK THEM. Fuck trying to fit. DO YOUR THING. You're addyeB. TRY CATEGORIZING *THAT*. Like the great philosopher Janelle Monae says, 'Categorize me, I defy every label'. DEFY CATEGORIZATION. You need to listen to 'Q.U.E.E.N.'-here-go listen."
"WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME?!" I demanded to know from her, why the continuous challenge to do the hard, terrifying things I try to shrink back from. "Because you need to do this. You need to show yourself what the rest of us know: you CAN do this."
We discussed it some more. She shared that it's something she struggles with herself, which, since she's older than me, was another reality check that yielded some comfort. It enabled me to put down the flogging whip I use on myself and focus on grace instead.
I hate when she's right, though. Dammit.