Years ago, I wrote a poem titled “Bone China” which was mostly about the frailty of assumption. I often experience people assuming things about me from a first impression, as do most of us. How accurate are others’ first impressions of you? Usually, people find their assumptions of me lacking. It’s not the ignorance I enjoy, but the space between ignorance and learning the truth.
I’m a bit of social chameleon. I learned this skill as an introvert’s survival tactic. It’s recently been useful in hostile work environs, too. Blending in with scenery seems ideal when the notion of mere conversation stresses you out. When you work with an insecure, scapegoat-seeking superior, it’s somewhat of a necessity. Self-camouflage makes you appear less threatening to those individuals fearful of your strong will and stronger opinions. Ideally, you’re only blending in for a paycheck or working towards a temporary goal. If you find yourself blending in out of fear of standing out, that’s another problem entirely.
Although I’ve recently learned the value of shutting up and putting up, as well as the significance of intentional silence, your concern for how you “should” be is not a valid reason to silence yourself. The pubescent, juvenile need to fit in is a serious problem in this day and age. So many of us let fear hold us back. We stress the fabric of our personal realities by trying to match assumptions of how we should be. Knowing this brings me great sadness.
The problem with blending in too much is that you make yourself disappear. Worse still, you just might forget yourself. Instead of concerning yourself with fitting in, consider where you already are and how those in your life work with or against you. For example, my strong opinions are only a problem when disconnected from logic and compassion. When I remember that a boss I’ve lost respect is only human, it curbs my tongue. And when I forget, I have honest friends who remind me to forgive and forget. I’ve also found a productive way to channel my passionate spirit in written words. It’s not exactly how I want things to be, but I’m no longer straining myself to fit into an assumed version of my life nor am I forcing myself or others into unnatural change.
It’s somewhat amusing how our assumptions of reality often overlook the impermanence of most life circumstances. The more we assume the world’s out to get us, blame external sources for our problems or indulge our self-centeredness, the more we pull on the ties that bind. These ties are those things which,when pieced together, form the pattern for our lives. The struggle to meet continual assumptions pulls at the woven threads of your reality. The dimensions of your personal world involve a variety of threads: relationships, goals, values, basic needs and so on. Each dimension may contain multiple threads, thus being stronger and more integral to your life. Others may be less plentiful but as vital, thereby decreasing the overall strain these threads can bear. These dimensions may fray if pulled on too often (i.e., you expect too much from a loved one).
The beauty of a broken thread is that it can be retied. It can be rewoven into the fabric of your reality. Another important thing: It can’t be erased. The knot of your broken, now repaired tie, will always be there as reminder. You can’t cut yourself off from certain parts of your life without consequences. Fitting in too much strips the dye from threads. It slowly tugs at frayed edges and worries over previously tied knots. Fitting in for the sake of fitting in will unravel the pattern God made for you. Tying knots, adding new threads, and maintaining the fabric of your life are transformative experiences. Secure your loose ends by living out the divine, grand design you’re a part of.