Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Square in a round world

Have you ever felt like you don’t fit in? Not just in a common everyday sense when you’re among strangers or an unusual place, I’m talking about something deeper. It’s that feeling you had when you were 8 years old in a busy street, looking for your parents. You walk aimlessly searching, trying to see through the cracks between people who slide by and don’t notice you. You think you see them, but then the crack closes… more people slide by… and then they aren’t there. The more you search, the more you realise… you’re helpless and can’t help yourself.

Or the feeling you get when you’re stuck in the turnstile… we’ve surely all been there… everybody else slipping through without any worries, occasionally throwing a sidelong glance at the person who just doesn’t quite figure it out. You know you’re missing something important, but can’t for the life of you figure out what it is.

You’re a square in a round world. You’re the stone that gets trapped in the sieve while the sand falls through. You’re the guy with the ‘kick me’ sign on his back, wondering why everyone keeps kicking him. You’re the nerd, you’re the loner, the guy that sits at the back of the bus and wishes he could sit with the others. The last guy picked for the team and the first to leave the party. The person that joins a conversation just a little too late and just can’t figure out what the others are talking about… You’re the tall guy with the long neck… In a colony of penguins, you are the walrus.

Something implacable is somehow hiding just out of your view, like the back of your head - you just can’t see it, even though you know it’s there. You live your life with a pane of glass between you and the real world, and like a goldfish screaming to the outside world, they can’t hear you. Sometimes it’s like they don’t even know you’re there.

You’re everybody’s imaginary friend, something everyone else sees but no deeper than spilled water. You aren’t a real person because you’re missing something as important as life itself. Like Pinocchio, you wish you could be like everybody else.

I feel like that sometimes. I feel like that now, for reason’s I know but can never quite explain. Obviously I exaggerate to make the picture clear. But I wonder if I really am missing something, if I am living life with a plank in my eye, unable to see it with everyone else sniggering behind my back but unwilling to tell me about it. And of course, I can track down in my foggy memory of the past all the reasons why I feel that way. I was the geek, I was the loner. Some words cut deeper into the soul, and the wounds last longer than we think.

We are to love others as we love ourselves, but what if we don’t love our self? I don’t have a problem with me, in fact I quite like who I’ve become, but I wonder if other people do. It’s probably me being silly, for I know my heart and there’s little I can see in it that is repulsive. But I always think of the back of my head, the figure dancing just behind you whichever way you turn – we can’t see ourselves for what we truly are. We look out through our eyes and all we ever see is our reflection.

We are reflected in our friends, we glisten back from the rocks of our family, we echo through the chambers of our acquaintances. It’s like seeing your own face reflected from a rippling stream, never constant, always changing, never staying still enough to really see it clearly.

I’m glad God sees me clearly, and I know I can trust Him. In fact, He seems like the only constant thing in this round world sometimes. He loves people regardless; He has room for circles, and room for squares. And I think when we get to heaven, we’ll see that we are not just squares and circles, but shapes more beautiful than our goldfish-minds can yet imagine.


Fraser Dron said...

I like that post Reubs, you've summed up exactly how I feel a lot of the time.

Nathan said...

Its kinda funny that everyone feels like they don't fit in. At least we can fit in with that fact.

I used to worry about weirdness. How did I not know that I was unattractively weird? Would I know if I was different? It wasn't the being different that worried me, but the unwantedness.
So I came up with a few ways to test whether I was unwanted:
a) Get a girlfriend. If a girl could like me, that was proof that I'm likable
b) Act a wee bit weirder at times and see how people react. If I'm totally weird a slight change in weirdness wouldn't have an effect. But if I'm relativily normal then others perceptions of weirdness will be similar to my own. (Have I ever said I think too much?)
But I really hit the jack pot with the next one:
c) If for example, the Lord and Ruler of the universe was to die for me, then there's no reason to feel unwanted.

Like you, I'm glad for God. Yay.
Praise him.

Philotas said...

Yeh, isnt that always the way. you wonder what exactly it is that people see when they look at you, and you want to know what you have to do to improve that.

We can say all we want that we dont care what others think, but some part of us deep inside does.

And Agreeing with everyone here, thats why God is cool. he understands this need, he knows it, and he knows us. And he accepts us and loves us more than we can ever understand in our lives. He will understand us in ways no one else ever can, not even our future wives/husbands. He knows everything about us and in spite of this loves us, absolute acceptance. The round hole just gets so big that the square beg just has to fall in!

Kelly said...

Hugs back at you brother, & hugs all round by the sound of things! For the record, I'd like to say that you're all weird (in a good way, not a run away screaming way) and I love you all tremendously for it. Agreeing with everyone else said already, and I think you've just got to embrace who you are, make the best of it and love every minute of it! From the outsider-looking-on POV, you guys are all great and you do your own version of you in a very good way, so don't worry too much.

michelle said...

Argh! Reuben you're awesome! and just for mentioning 'walrus' you get lots of *HUGS*
I am actually, quite literally, teary eyed, here in the computer room (which, luckily, is empty, and quite likely to stay that way)....
Reading that makes me feel sad for you, and for feeling that way... and reading other peoples posts, saying that they sometimes feel like that, makes me sad for them too. And also im sad because i feel that way a lot.
When i was at primary school i always used to wonder why i never really had any close friends, or why i still tucked my t-shirts into my pants at age 11. And at high school i used to wish i wasnt the girl that had to keep moving round different friendship groups cos she used to get offsides with everyone/get kicked out. At uni last year i could tell why i had make heaps of boy friends who i was happy to flirt with, yet hadnt made any serious girl friends. This year i'm wondering if everyone's found their calling but me and if everyone actually just wants to tell me to shut up and go away.
I think we all deal with feelings of inadequacy, feeling like we dont measure up, or if others really just want us to rack off and leave them alone. If people are just putting up with us because they feel they have to, and if we're really as cringe-worthy and irrelevant as we think we are.
I'm glad though, that weak people are used. Weak people are loved just as much as the strong. Which means that God will use us, the inadequate for his tasks, and others love us because we assure them that they are not alone in their worries about not fitting in.
In saying that, though, as we grow, we are changed by God into people who feel that they are sufficient and worthwhile and cool. And i'd like to think that these things that we notice and rue in ourselves are noticed by others, but they mean that we are normal, and people will love us for being honest to admit that we feel like we dont fit in.
Argh.. i've kinda lost my train of thought, but it reminds me of a Vicki D'Orazzio sermon at Get Smart 2 years ago, about 'you've got the goods' . God uses Earthern vessels. We ARE sufficient.
Its really awesome =) When i get the tape of it back from a friend i lent it to over 6 months ago (grr) i think i will post about it on my blog.
I think this is something thats always on my mind, so much so that it becomes ingrained, and i dont even notice it until someone else (in this case you) brings it up.
i am always aware when i enter a conversation that i cant figure out, and when people play some game that i dont understand, or when i dance across a room yelling "BURNINATION" and realise that no one finds it funny....
You're definately not alone, Reubz.... and as you can tell by the length of this post, its something i feel strongly about, and i had thought it was just me being insecure (argh... more almost-tears in the computer lab *cringe*) so im kinda glad that we're all not alone *smile*

Fraser Dron said...

People are always playing games I don't understand! Spoons, Mao....
Peasant's Quest....

incognito said...

Hey, wow Chelle... don't cry =) Guess it's a bit late really for that... being the next day and all. School wasn't that great for me for a few years either, again I would cry about it if I could cry, but I can't. I could then, but not now. But now I can understand people in that position. I think you're great, and heading in the right direction as far as God and all that is concerned, so you'll only get better.

It seems judging by the comments so we are all in the same boat, which is interesting because you'd think that would make us feel less different - but of course it doesn't =)

Andrew said...

Don't worry people, while you're all averagely weird, none of you I know are significantly weirder or less weird than any of the others here... so if you want to know your weirdness level then just take the weirdness level of any of the other guys here.

That's impressively deep. I think the "In a colony of penguins, you are the walrus." line needs to be fridgified or stuck on my flat's whiteboard or something.
Yes, I think a lot of people struggle with self-worth: I know I used to, though it seemed to fix itself and I'm not 100% sure why it did. I think one way to help is to compliment people. (This might have been what did it for me... ie I had people give me compliments) Especially in NZ we tend to avoid compliments wherever possible... which I suspect is unhealthy and contributes to negative self-image due to an abundence of put-downs and lack of put-ups. It's important of course that compliments be really sincere and you actually 100% mean what you say, but so often I find I have a compliment on the tip of my tongue but don't say it just because I'm not used to saying them or hearing people say them.

I'm afraid I'm neither a girl nor lord of the universe -which possibly excludes me from your list of telling-you-your-not-unwanted methods- though I would probably die for you which may mean I fit into (c) despite not being God (although, the idea of dying for someone else is somewhat problematic, because even though in theory I would say I value your life above my own all else being equal, in practice it is pretty impossible to construct a situation in which all else is equal - for example in practice I would never be able to know for sure that sacrificing my own life would in fact save yours and obviously it is rather silly to make sacrifices on the mere *possibility* of helping someone else... of course in movies it always works whenever the hero sacrifices himself for the greater good)... anyway: You're not unwanted.

Yeah, I did actually ask someone once straight out what they saw when they looked at me and how I could improve that. They couldn't give me an answer. But maybe we SHOULD do this more often and seriously think about the answers we could give to others? Would that be helpful in growing others? Or would that just encourage us to be overly critical of others and ourselves instead of accepting them as who they are?

"This year i'm wondering if everyone's found their calling but me and if everyone actually just wants to tell me to shut up and go away."
Oh! ~hugs~ I haven't the faintest idea what might have made you think that, but that's not the case AT ALL. A few lucky people might find their calling now and then, but most of the rest of us are still wallowing in lack-of-callings-ville. And as for not wanting you, I can't think why... you are a cool and enthusiastic person.

I suspect worries of inadequacy are simply a sign of intelligence. Anyone who has never considered the idea that they might be different, or not fit in, probably hasn't considered it because they've never *thought*. Sorry to anyone I just insulted with that statement!

Nathan said...

We're cool.

Heh. that comment was rather confusing, but I get the gist. I guess its not just the Christ dying that makes me know I'm wanted, but its an exemplar of God's Love. We are all made in God's image, and God loves us.

Also, the intelligence one was actually number (d) in my theories. The prototypical weird person who didn't realize they are unwanted didn't fit me, because I'm vaguely conscious of the possibility.

Kelly said...

Oh, how I love you all!
Andrew, thanks for bringing up the issue of compliments, I think they're brilliant! I know I tell you all that I love you, you're gorgeous, you're beautiful, etc, etc, etc. far too much, but I mean every word of it, I'm not just spouting! It becomes such habit with me that half the time I don't even realise that I'm saying it, but I also never say it if I don't mean it. So while you may start tuning out because I just keep repeating myself, be sure that I do mean it & I think you're all beautiful people.

incognito said...

Hmm... it seems a few people think I am 1) insecure or 2) have low self-esteem. Sure, I guess wondering if you don't fit in normal goes along with these two things - but in my case it is far from true. In my rather secure sense of myself I was simply aware that I feel like I am significantly different. In fact, perhaps it is the very fact that I know who I am so well that I recongnise how unique I am. Perhaps I need to post on this topic next - self-worth. It's a biggy. I can't wait! =) Oohh... and that ties in nicely with some upcoming topics I want to post on, like our love for God and our love for others.

Jared said...

Squares, circles, walruses, and goldfish eh? Well, I definately have felt like a square walrus at times and a goldfish especially at the end of exams. Sometimes we think ourselves to be such walruses that we end up acting the walrus to hide ourselves. Ah well, Jesus loves us and knows us by name. God bless and keep this good work up man.
--The Walrus