Updated: Jan 14, 2019
I've never been one to fit into a mold. I am the existential outcast. The free-spirit. The hippie. The "nice" girl. Lover of solitude with an eclectic taste in music and the arts.
As a teenager, I bobbled among the many social groups, never really finding my place. I was social, but not a cheerleader. I was intelligent, but not a nerd. I didn't party, but always got asked to be the designated driver. I had my tribe of four close friends and was content.
I was an extroverted introvert. I was the responsible one. The one who always looked after others. The one with a good head on her shoulders. The one everyone came to with their problems. The empathetic one. The people-pleaser.
In college I continued to have difficulty finding my place among peers. People always wanted to talk to me about their problems, but I was never really part of any one social group. I wasn't into sororities or college parties and had a difficult major with a lot of hours, so I mainly stayed to myself and focused on my studies.
I lived in the dorms for one semester, then realized I preferred to be alone and moved into an apartment. I needed my own space away from the constant partying and loud gatherings. The slew of people in and out of the dorms at all hours was exhausting. I found myself needing a break from all the people.
When I graduated from college and started my career, finding my place within the hierarchy of my coworkers proved troublesome. I wasn't competitive like they were. I didn't get involved in workplace drama. I never stirred the pot and just wanted to do my job and go home. I could function well in my role and was respected for my work ethic, but I was never truly accepted as an individual. It seemed one really cared to know the real me and it made for a very unfulfilling experience.
Fast forward a few years. I have since furthered my education and have moved into a senior position. I needed more freedom. I needed to be able to be myself and to not be held back by the constraints of a competitive, mostly female workplace. I never felt comfortable in that environment.
I feel more settled in my current position. I have autonomy, I'm productive and function well and can listen to my music during the day. I get to mentor and enjoy getting to know my mentees on a one-on-one basis. I usually end up being more of a therapist than a mentor, but I enjoy it immensely.
I accept the fact that most people don't understand my music taste or my creativity. They don't understand why I prefer to be alone. It's foreign to them. They find me odd. I have social anxiety due to the abuse I endured for many years, but this is so much more than that. I'm just different. Always have been, always will be.
During this journey of self-discovery after divorce, I've done a great deal of research in an attempt to figure out why I have always felt like the odd man out and why I have such a hard time fitting into standardized social groups. I'm learning to understand why people are so open in telling me their issues, but so reserved when it comes to actually socializing with me.
Being different never bothered me until I lived with an abusive husband. Looking back I realize my ex-husband most likely chose me because I am this way. Already singled out and different from the others.
For him, I was an easy target.
He somehow knew I was looking for acceptance and camaraderie from anyone who would offer it. I was easy to manipulate because of my carefree, genuine heart. He made me feel like I fit in with him and his friends and that he understood my differences. He accepted me. Every bit of me.
Something I'd desired my entire life.
He then spent the next decade systematically deconstructing me.
Pointing out every flaw. Everything that made me different, which he initially adored, suddenly became problematic.
I needed more friends because my small tribe wasn't enough, but I wasn't allowed to talk to anyone. My talents became annoyances and I wasn't allowed to use them. I wasn't a good wife or mother. I wasn't fun enough. I didn't drink enough. I was selfish because I didn't approve of his recreational drug use. My music taste (something I thought we initially bonded over) sucked.
He picked me apart down to the bone.
The effects of his deconstruction will be life-long. I now feel more out of place than I ever have. I feel shunned because I am divorced. I'm embarrassed because I ended up with a man like my ex-husband in the first place. I don't fit into the typical maternal mold because I'm a single mother. For a long time, my church wasn't sure what to do with me or other women like me. My married friends no longer call to invite me to go places with them. My life does not resemble theirs.
I don't fit into the mold of typicality.
In my quest to find out more about why I've always felt so out of place, I decided to take one of those Meyers Briggs Personality tests. The results indicate I am an INFJ (Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, Judgment). Go figure. One of the rarest personality types making up only 1-2% of the population. The personality type that "doesn't fit into society".
I finally have a name for what I have felt my whole life. I read every piece of information I could get my hands on about the INFJ personality. Things started making sense and I realized that I'm not meant to fit into the mold or normality. And that's ok.
There is no shame in being different!
It is my belief that the Lord makes each one of us different for a reason. While personalities can be lumped together into genres, the reality is each one of us has a different purpose to fulfill for Him while on this Earth and we each must use our individual personalities for His good.
We are meant to break the mold society places on us in order to serve Him best.
My ex-husband's deconstruction has ultimately served to help me start over completely and to rebuild my foundation; a foundation firm in Christ. A foundation that can withstand all the storms life has to send my way.
God has used an incredibly traumatic event to reveal to me the unique traits everyone can bring to the table. He's showing me my purpose and that I'm not really an outcast because I am His. He's showing me there is good to be found in every situation and that even though I'm different, I have incredible gifts to share with others.
While I bounced around trying to find my place in society for most of my life, I neglected to acknowledge that God accepted me all along! I never needed to worry about fitting in, because I fit in with Him.
I'm learning to love being different from the norm. Learning to love myself and to embrace the gifts I've been given. I'm appreciating myself for always trying to do the right thing by others and by God as I'm instructed.
So from this point on, I'll continue being me and I'll continue breaking that societal mold because I have an incredible purpose here on this earth.
Our purpose is to do what is right, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of others. (2 Corinthians 8:21)