I have begun taking a yoga class that is combined with a book club. The book is what most people would call a "self-help" book that is about how to live your life Wholeheartedly. I will be honest, yoga and self-help books have never really been my cup of tea; all that "ohmming", "finding your center", and "hooraying yourself happy" stuff has always made feel very uncomfortable. However, the class is being taught by a very dear friend of mine who has the amazing ability to make me laugh when my muscles feel as if they are going to explode, so I decided to give it a try.
The Yoga has been wonderful and the book, well, it's Okay. It is filled with mostly common sense stuff and some really good key points that made me stop and think. But one of the main ideas of the book is to stop tyring to "fit in" so you can enjoy who you are and get the most out of life. That is a key concept I am having difficulty believing we need instruction on.
You see, I have never really "fit in". Admittedly, I have never really tried to fit in. Don't get me wrong, I have felt the sting of rejection and trust me, it hurt. But I have always tried to remain true to myself even when others did not agree.
In grammar school, I was the quasi-Tomboy who was too uncoordinated to be good at sports, had hair that my sister affectionately called a rat's nest, and couldn't match my clothes to save my life. I didn't fit in with the "pretty princesses" and even though I was most comfortable around boys, they were still boys and we each had our respective cooties that kept us at a distance.
Junior high and high school were not much different. I started to try and tame my hair but it was never the right style to be included in what I call the "beautiful people" group. I wasn't really fat, but I was never thin enough. I got good grades, but I was not smart enough to be with the brainy group. I was not a super, social butterfly, but I was friendly enough to not fit in with the geeky group. I was the quiet one who most would not remember at a reunion.
But it was Ok.
Of course I would be lying if I said I didn't question myself and daydream what my life would be like if I were part of group. I just never changed anything to make myself part of the group. Looking back, I must have been smarter than I gave myself credit for. Somewhere, deep down inside, I must have known that no one is ever really accepted by everyone. That there would always be "groups" who need to make themselves feel better by excluding others.
Although I have tamed my hair (on most days anyway), waxed my unibrow, and found some style, I am still not pretty or thin enough to fit in with the "beautiful people" group and although I am smart, I will never fit in with the super smart group. The fact is, I don't need to. I have a wide range of friends who belong to their own "groups" and accept me as I am.
And I like who I am.
I am kind, thoughtful, honest, and above all, a person who accepts people for who they are. They don't have to be pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, or funny enough. They just have to genuinely be who they are.
So, as I am reading the book for my yoga class, I can't help but think that maybe there should be more books about accepting people for who they are and less books about how we can change ourselves to stop caring about fitting in. Imagine the possibilities of a world where we are not focused on being part of some group. Intead, we celebrate the strengths of individuals and accept their weaknesses as they are. Then, we would all be truly, beautiful people.