“I finally just decided to own my MISFIT STATUS. That’s when things really started to take off”. Author Unknown
According to Dictionary.com, misfit is defined as the following:
[ mis-fit for 1; mis-fit, mis-fit for 2; mis-fit for 3 ]
verb (used with or without object), mis·fit·ted, mis·fit·ting: to fit badly.
noun: something that fits badly, as a garment that is too large or too small.
a person who is not suited or is unable to adjust to the circumstances of his or her particular situation: a misfit in one’s job.
What feels like an eternity ago, I had a conversation with my Badass Therapy guru Jessica about wanting to get ahead of the pandemic curve to be “ready” by the end of summer to provide clinical services to all of the first responders, clinicians and essential workers who may realize their level of burnout by that time. I chuckle when I consider my naivete at the impact that COVID19 would have on our culture, our moods and also our resiliency. In my mind at the time of our discussion, we all thought that this would be around for a few months and then pass with life returning to normal. Instead, here we are almost six months later, trying to figure out what the academic year will look like, how we can be social again and what life will look like over the next few months, let alone years. My discussions with clients have shifted from the shock, fear and confusion of the pandemic ‘sprint’ to empowering resiliency to manage the marathon that it has become. The focus transitioning from survival to being able to thrive in the new normal.`
All while in my favorite mouse pajama pants most days.
Remember those early days? Feeling like the world as we knew it was turned upside down and everywhere we looked there was a slow motion surreal feeling that came with all that was happening. I think I told most of my clients to take a social media fast to limit exposure, comparison and the impact of the daily changes, changing narratives and overall saturation of sadness. However, I never would have thought that LinkedIn would have a similar impact on me.
You know where this is going right? You received the emails too. It seemed everyone immediately had an intervention to support the essential workers and helping professionals. There were instant webinars on how to “survive” the pandemic, new seminars on passive income streams and every promise known to man on how to thrive despite the circumstances. LinkedIn was filled with blogs, seminars, brilliant articles and networking opportunities to immediately meet the needs of the helping professionals.
Wait – that was my idea! For mid to end of summer. When all of this “passed” and we could move on. How did everyone do that so quickly in such a way that allowed for immediate action? What did I miss? And, of course, since when did I compare myself to people (most that I really do not know..) on LinkedIn?
Feeling like what I was doing was not ‘good enough’ or did not ‘measure up’ at that moment led me to some self evaluation. I long ago let go of the comparison game on every other social media site, only having a few active sites because I am told it helps with an online presence for my business. So why now?
Growing up my father had two siblings that each had two children of their own. The six cousins spent family events together despite a considerable age gap between my brother and I with the rest of the cousins. I had the privilege of being the youngest, and the only girl. My cousins were all very cool in my eyes but there were two of my cousins that I gravitated more towards as we grew up. Ironically, there was one of us per family and the three of us were more of the, shall we say, adventurous of the siblings. Ok, so maybe rebellious is a better word, but you get the point. Our siblings were all the achievers, gold star children and stayed out of trouble. Does that mean they were perfect? Heck no. I will just hands down say my brother (as well as my other cousins) were just a lot better at hiding their shenanigans that the three of us were. A few years ago I remember telling my one cousin that it was fun being part of the “misfit” crew of the family. Despite being spread all over the country and rarely having contact as adults since we were all busy in our own lives, the two of them always had a very special place in my heart. And always will. I always felt like I fit in when I was with the misfit crew. Even when we were getting in trouble back in the good old Dorney days. Makes me smile right now just thinking about some of what we did!
It also makes me sad because I am the last of the misfits that is still alive. My one cousin passed away when I was 27 years old and my second misfit crew cousin passed away a few weeks ago. One from alcohol, the other from cancer. I know my cousin I recently lost was aware of the positive impact he had on me since we discussed it a few years ago during another family tragedy. But I am not sure if the cousin I lost in my 20’s ever knew how much I loved him. It may sound silly, but I even had drinking glasses that he gave me at my wedding (in 1997…) that have long passed their expiration date since they remind me of him.
So when the feelings of being a misfit this summer kicked in, I realized that it was a familiar feeling of not quite fitting in or measuring up.
Always feeling like you are in someone’s shadow – even if that is just in your own perception.
Feeling like no matter how much you achieve, how much you succeed or even how many degrees you have, there will always be someone that is smarter, more accomplished, less burned out and have more to offer someone.
Sound familiar at all? As tough as it was to accept that a part of me I thought I had long ago embraced, it also was a perfect time to reflect and take some of my own advice of not playing the comparison game, living my authentic life and accepting that I am perfectly imperfect just the way I am.
Living an authentic life comes from a place of knowing what your core values are and what makes you thrive. To cultivate the courage to be imperfect on a daily basis (sometimes hourly basis) and vulnerable. Being vulnerable can be scary and feel impossible at times. But with some marble jar friends – anything is possible! We have to believe that we are fundamentally worthy of love and acceptance, just as we are. No matter what the scale says. No matter what our siblings accomplish. No matter whether you are single or not. No matter what your past has been. I’ve learned that there is no better way to invite more grace, gratitude and joy into our lives than by mindfully practicing authenticity.
Authenticity means that the misfit title can no longer apply.
Being a misfit means, by definition, that you do not fit in. Living authentically means you fit in wherever you are just by being you. Whether I choose to feel like a misfit is up to me, just as much as it is up to you on a daily basis. My misfit crew may have dwindled down to just being a crew of one, but the concepts still apply.
Someday I will have to retire my favorite mouse pajamas pants and leave the house for work. It is in my control if I use this time to continue to compare my professional presence, create a fabulous case of Imposter Syndrome, become burned out OR decide to accept that I am right where I need to be in my career and in my personal life.
The pandemic has had an impact on all of us. Some of it has been negative. Some of it has been positive. As much as we cannot control what occurs outside of our own personal space, we can lean into our internal growth so that we can identify the areas that we want to change to be able to live an authentic life – no matter what else is going on.
Try this exercise. Stand in front of a mirror and be honest with yourself. What does your current situation feel like? Sense it: feel it, smell it, and imagine it playing out. Now, think about the future. Take those present sensations with you. Could you imagine still being surrounded by those same emotions and sensations in two to three years’ time?
If not, let’s chat. Because if you cannot embrace the same emotions in two to three years (or even six months!), your level of burn out or imposter syndrome that you feel now will not magically go away after some rest, after a fabulous vacation or even after a leave of absence.
You do not have to embrace a culture that says “misfit” or “imposter” is the only way to function. Even in a pandemic. There is another way and you can make a radical change so you can thrive.
We are in this together and together we will empower each other to work through the level of exhaustion so you can discover your rockstar status. Perfectly imperfect counseling is a way to meet you where you are at. Rip off the Band-Aid. Embrace the good, bad & ugly. Understand your brilliance may not always partner well with your emotions. And simply understand that you are bruised, but not broken. Perfectly imperfect simply needing someone to come along side of you and empower you to make those tweaks you have wanted to for as long as you can remember.
You simply need someone to believe in you, understand you and slightly push you. In a kind way of course.
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As I have stated previously, being known for who you uniquely are at the core is a freeing experience. One that will take bravery and vulnerability, but one that can be achieved.
Always remember to take care of you. You are worth it!