A few years ago I wrote about fitting in, or rather about not fitting in. This is what I said then:
On a good day you tell yourself that you are simply 32 flavours and then some. On a good day you can flit from group to group, not really belonging but ok with it. Some days it's enough just to be there. And it's true, some days it is enough.
On other days it's a different reality that comes crashing down. Some days it hits you that you are on the periphery, that you don't really belong. Some days you have stripes when you should have spots. Some days you get tired of people trying to shove you into places they think you should fit. Some days you desperately wish you fit into any of those places.
Some days you are just a square peg in a vast land of round holes. And while people assume you are looking for a square hole they are wrong -- you're just looking for the other square pegs.
I still feel that way. I still feel like everyone has spots and I have stripes. I'm still a square peg.
There are times when I feel this more acutely than others. For a few years I could hide behind the label of "book blogger" or "books editor" and that helped until it started to feel stifling. I felt trapped with a label that somehow didn't fit any longer. The more people identified me as the books person the more confining it felt. The label was that was the only way people could identify me. Yes, I do love books and stories but I'm also more than that.
I'm not a parent and therefore not a parenting blogger but nor am I a child-free blogger. I run a bit but I'm not really a runner or a fitness blogger. I'm Canadian but it's been a long, long time since I wrote about Canadian or local issues.
I'm not easy to label. As confining as labels can feel, there is also comfort in them. They make you feel like you belong -- like you have a place. Without an easy label, I feel like I don't belong most of the time and I assume that everyone else is thinking it.
And so I hide. I hide behind meal plans and running updates. I hide behind book reviews. I hide behind friends. I don't tell my story because I've lost it to all the voices in my head that say without a label I don't have a story worth telling. I've lost the thread of my own narrative. I tell myself that all I do is work, eat and run and where is the story in that?
But we all have a story to tell. Yes, sometimes my story is a meal plan. I work from home and most days I work from my kitchen because more than anything the kitchen is where I feel most at home in the house. Food is how I show my love for the people in my life and how I care for myself. Yet I'll never be a food blogger because I'd rather eat food than photograph it and I'd rather use other people's recipes than develop my own. I may tell stories using food as a backdrop but it won't ever be the only way I frame my stories. Food blogger would just be another label that puts me in a box where I don't belong.
Sometimes running is my story. It's another way I care for myself. I'm not athletic and have never been but I can run my own race. At least I can until race day when I get into the headspace that I'm not good enough to keep pace with others and I forget about running my own race until it's all over.
Maybe that's just a bit of my problem with writing. I spent all my days reading other's stories and at a point you can't help be in awe of them. You can't help but feel that they could tell your story better and that they would see the narrative where you do not.
And so I hide. I don't use my voice. I read and support others while the voice in my head says, "What about you? What about your story?"
I don't know what I am except this - I am a square peg with a story worth telling if only I can quiet the voices that tell me I don't belong.