I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I didn’t fit in.
What did they all have in common? One, that I thought the feeling would last forever. Two, it didn’t.
My earliest memory of not fitting in was at the YMCA pool. I’d moved one town away the year before and started at a new school. The year prior, teachers solved the problem of my distracting other students due to boredom by placing me in higher level classes for parts of the day. Working at a higher level caused my work to stand out at my new school and I was advanced to a higher grade midyear. But my maturity level remained with my peers in my lower grade.
Despite being close in age, I didn’t have a clue how to fit in with my new classmates, especially on the playground. It was the beginning of my “if-it-don’t-fit-force-it” behavior. I became a people pleaser at my core and started performing to try and gain acceptance. Yep, at 8. May have been 7.
Fast forward to the following summer at the YMCA where I was taking swimming lessons. There was a girl I recognized from my new neighborhood. Desperate to find a friend to hang with for my lessons, I maneuvered to be near her for the lessons. I’d try to talk to her before, during and after. Looking back, other than her living down the street, I can’t imagine why I wanted her as my friend. She was downright rude in telling me to leave her alone!
Several years later, we ended up at the same junior high school. And found ourselves inseparable for many years to come and I was the maid of honor in her wedding (despite her lack of remorse when I shared that story from my point of view). Years before it was our time to connect, I pushed and pulled to no avail. She wasn’t the first I tried to force myself on, and wouldn’t be the last.
So, how do we know when to “help” folks see the benefits of having us around, versus when to let the ship pass knowing it will come around again?
For example, my husband and I met and conversed almost daily for several months before we just kind of fizzled. Though this isn’t the version of the story I tell, it was probably for the best at that juncture because I was on the brink of wholeness, but not quite there. Just over 2 years later when he called I hadn’t been waiting, but I was definitely ready.
I believe deciding whether or not to push the issue of relationship is an issue of wholeness. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you’re on the brink of a new friendship or relationship:
- Are you in a place emotionally where people’s decisions to accept your company (or not) don’t derail you?
If not, you may want to hold off from a new relationship. I’m not suggesting that you must be hardened or callous before you open yourself up. I am saying, however, that without being secure enough to understand that “no” may have nothing to do with you and everything to do with their capacity to engage with you, you’re setting yourself up for potential trouble.
- What do you believe it means when someone says “no” to your offer of relationship?
My last so-called relationship before my husband was with a guy determined to keep me in the friend zone, except where it mattered…like with keys to my place, free use of my car, and a monopoly on my time. I set up a timeframe that made sense for me to ‘wait’ and engage without demand. After which, when he expressed he was still not ready for a relationship, I moved on. No hard feelings!
- What did you do the last time you felt rejected in a relationship?
Honestly, I don’t think I chased my husband because I wasn’t in the position to. We were long distance. And that’s a really good thing because his personality would NOT have stood for it! I was forced to learn how to flow with the current of our relationship as we became friends and eventually moved into relationship status. Previously, at the first sign of rejection I would camp out waiting for calls, sending multiple text messages and trying to force a connection where there was none.
So, how did your answers come out? Do you have a tendency to push when you feel someone pull in the opposite direction? How can you adjust to go with the flow rather than force it? I look forward to your comments!