I don't fit in

Confessions of a Misfit: 35 Ways I Don’t Fit In

Do you feel as if you don’t fit in? I do and last week I was told that everyone else feels the same way.

Is it true? I’m not sure but apparently feeling you don’t fit in is common, so instead of fretting about it and trying to make ourselves fit in, or in my case at least appear to fit in, we should be accepting it and celebrating our differences.

What a relief. Instead of hiding our quirks we can share them and move on.

Why do we feel as if we don’t fit in?

There are myriad reasons why we feel we don’t fit in. These are my experiences but you’ll have your own.

For children growing up in Britain the class thing can get ugly. When I lived in the UK many people complained that I sounded posh. Others said I sounded common. It’s confusing and alienating.

Then when I left England for greener pastures no one could understand why anyone would want to go and live in Zimbabwe/Laos/New Zealand or wherever I was moving to. I couldn’t understand how they could resist exploring the world.

Now I live in Australia but I’m not an Australian (I have British and Kiwi passports) so it seems like I’m destined not to fit in. And though I strive to make my kids feel confident and secure I can see that in many ways I’m setting them up for the same outcast experience.

My children were born in New Zealand but have lived in Costa Rica and now in Australia. They have no Playstation or Wii and they just can’t seem to get the hang of wearing shoes. Even the 12 year old. The 9 year old has a habit of climbing trees and shinning lamp posts and we applaud this where passersby frown at it. The daughter shows no interest in high heels, fashion or fancy hair dos. Thank heavens, she’s only six but many six year old girls are being groomed and parade around like little Barbie dolls.

Yes, there are thousands of wonderful ways not to fit in and I love eccentric people. But where does eccentric end and weird begin? It’s a fine line and no doubt we all cross it at times.

Maybe I’m crossing it now but the reason I set up my blog was to share my story. To make our blogs work we need to be honest, open and unguarded. We need to share a true multi-faceted story. In doing so we’ll realise that the feeling of not fitting means we’re in good company.

35 ways I don’t fit in

1. I was raised in a water mill. The mill wheel no longer turned and my father, an architect, had converted the mill into our family home. We had a glass staircase in the living room with a view of a waterfall and the waterwheel, a mill pond and two streams in the garden.

2. My left ear sticks out. The result of a childhood accident involving me tripping over at school, ripping my ear on a slinky and seven stitches. I was an “accident prone” child, always falling over and breaking things – ironic really because Annabel means graceful.

3. I like the smell of chicken shit. Stems from spending a lot of fun times with my chickens Henrietta and Penelope as a child.

4. I talk to animals. If I walk past a dog on the beach I might say greet it aloud just as I would a human.  I’m not a dog person though but I LOVE cats.

5. I like birds too and enjoy a bit of ornithology even though it’s totally uncool. The bird watching is sensational in Costa Rica.

6. From the age of five I wanted to be a writer but my parents said it was too hard. So it took me a while to pluck up courage to write anyway. I guess my parents didn’t know that where once earning a living from writing may have been hard now writers are in high demand.

7. So I decided to be a doctor instead but I’m really not that good at science so it was never going to work out. I ended up studying French and English to fill in time until I worked out what I was going to do.

8. I always worked when I was a student to finance my travel habit. I’ve been a nanny, a bartender, a shop assistant and a very bad waitress.

9. I worked on a kibbutz in Israel too, first in the kitchen and then in the orchards picking lychees but I ran away after a week because the people were mean.

10. I went to Egypt and hung out in the Sinai on the Red Sea making friendship bands and doing hair braids. That’s where I met my husband. I was a 23 year old hippy who wasn’t even looking for a boyfriend.

11. We got married in Vanuatu 16 years and 3 children later. According to Forbes magazine Vanuatu is the happiest place in the world. Instead of a honeymoon we had a poopymoon. All the kids got a terrible tummy bug. I even had to put the five year old back in nappies. We still had a great time though.

12. I’m shy. Speaking in public is hard. I’m terrible on video. I’m joining Toastmasters to combat this. When I do give a talk everyone says how relaxed I look so I must be a good actress.

13. I struggle with confidence. Have done for as long as I can remember. Blogging has helped a lot but I still swing between thinking I can conquer the world and thinking I’m a hopeless case.

14. Much as I love writing I don’t understand people who correct grammar and spelling mistakes in library books. They must be frustrated editors.

15. I’m not cut out for urban life. Honking cars, crowded streets and flashing lights are stressful and confusing but the people watching opportunities are unparallelled.

16. I can wash my hair and body in a bucket of water. A useful skill I picked up during my bathroomless year in Zimbabwe.

17. I have car blindness. Fords, Nissans, Pajeros and even Skodas all look the same to me. To overcome this problem and learn to recognise my car and friends’ cars I pay attention to color and make up little phrases from the number plates.

18. I’m going deaf already.

19. I’m 5 foot 9 inches tall but everyone seems to think I look taller. As a child I was teased mercilessly for being a scrawny beanpole.

20. I like waving at people. Most of them wave back even if they don’t have the foggiest idea who you are. This is a fun way to pass the time on long and otherwise boring journeys.

21. I’m an excellent breeder. I had three big babies, giving birth once in hospital and twice at home on the floor and in a birthing pool. I’d like to give birth again even though it hurts like hell but three kids are quite enough.

22. I’m a direct descendant of Robert the Bruce, King Robert the Bruce II, the last king of Scotland. I can show you the family tree my dad made if you don’t believe me.

23. I had a sheltered middle class childhood. At the all girl’s school I went to we had to wear a straw boater, a yellow, blue and white striped blazer and white gloves. No wonder I rebelled.

24. I love the Internet because it levels the playing field and allows a little home-based business like mine to compete for business with and win against major advertising agencies like Saatchi and Saatchi or Ogilvy and Mather.

25. I have an addictive personality so I try to stay clear of most addictive substances most of the time apart from chocolate which I eat daily. Doctors orders.

26. I get up super early so I can have a walk on the beach or exercise before my family gets up and I actually look forward to my alarm clock ringing at the crack of dawn. So much so that I normally wake up before it rings.

27. I’m a tattoo free zone. I often thought about getting one but a little voice told me it would be better not to in case I ever wanted to (or needed to) disappear. So far I haven’t felt the need to disappear but I still enjoy entertaining the possibility.

28. I’ve been flashed at more times than I can remember but probably not in the last 20 years. It mostly happened in France and once memorably in Egypt underwater when I was innocently snorkeling. It’s not just sharks you have to worry about when ocean swimming.

29. I’m a real know it all. I love giving advice and being right. I’m highly opinionated but mostly I keep my ideas to myself because I don’t like arguments.

30. I’ve done a lot of hitchhiking including getting rides on a donkey cart, the top of a gravel truck and hanging on to the pole at the back of a fire engine. I don’t recommend any of these modes of transport.

31. I really am nuts about blogging because of all the amazing things it’s done for me personally, professionally and emotionally. On the back of my business card it says “help change the world one blog at a time”.  I truly believe blogging is changing the world and I want to teach more people how to tap into the power of blogging to change their worlds.

32. I love long words. I used to pore over the thesaurus when I was a kid but now I never get to use those fancy words because they make me look like a smart ass and no one can understand what I’m talking about. I still try to slip in the odd one here and there though.

33. I used to scorn the use of numbered list on blogs but now I love them.

34. I’m starting to understand that being misunderstood is perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of. That not fitting in is a gift. That not everyone will judge me for how I look or what I say or do.

35. But I’m still not that comfortable talking about myself. I’d much rather grill you and find out what makes you tick.

I’d love to read your comments. Do you feel as if you don’t fit in? What do you do to embrace your quirkiness?

Share Your Quirks in a Blog Post

If you’re a blogger write a blog post on your own blog about how you don’t fit in or what makes you unique. Leave a comment here with the link and I’ll write another post linking to them all.

I want this to be a place and a community where anyone and everyone fits in. No matter how quirky they are.

Thank you for joining me. I’m looking forward to finding out more about you.