All Anyone Wants is to Belong

On the way home today, I listed to Ira GlassThis American Life, and he said in a story about a boy who ran away from home to seek refuge with his idol, sci fi writer Piers Anthony, “he didn’t have any friends and besides, he was weird.” (Listen to it here.)

The kid was miserable, not close to his parents, and friendless at school. He pissed away his grades by reading books all day long. And the logical explanation for having no friends was his weirdness.

Except, as Seth Godin might say in a book of the same name, aren’t we all weird?

I spent half of today at a racetrack with a bunch of guys from different backgrounds all driven together by a passion for speed and cars. They have a community, a fraternity, the camaraderie they probably were looking for in their everyday lives. I can only imagine last night under the stars, as they drank and talked and camped in the absolute quiet. That’s communion.

I felt weird for much of my childhood – big hair, outspoken, took everything seriously, crazy for boys and poetry, and I was the girl who wanted red and navy blue for my bat mitzvah colors when every other girl had pink and gray.

All my life, I was looking for acceptance. To belong. Love. (So OK, I joined a religious community thinking if I just fell in line and wore the uniform, I’d fit in. Joke was on me; turns out I’m not the fitting in type.)

And it took until my mid-30s to get clear enough – and confident – to say THIS IS WHO I AM AND YOU BETTER DAMN WELL LIKE IT BECAUSE I AM FLIPPIN’ COOL.

Weird is the new black. Except it’s not new. It’s always been this way.

My heart broke for that 1980s boy trekking from Buffalo to Florida to find someone who would welcome him in and give him a home. I hope my kids never feel that way. If I do anything right in this life, it had better be to shower acceptance and love and respect for the uniqueness of my little ones and frankly, all who cross my path.

We’re all weird. Accept it. Which means we all belong, everywhere. And if anyone ever makes you second-guess your instinct, that little voice inside you (which is the true voice you know and the only one to listen to), well, you know where they can go. I’m just sayin’.

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