When You Don’t Fit In

So, I don’t know what you do in your down time but I, I analyze my life. It’s a skill I’ve learned from years of trauma, therapy, healing and God. If you know me well, you know that I know myself very well. That is both a blessing and a curse, trust me.

Today, I’m contemplating transitioning and how, as an American society, we are terribly hard on and crushing for those who don’t quite fit the mold. I have never quite fit the mold and it’s taken me nearly all of my 50 years to be ok knowing that about myself. My sweet Grrr doesn’t quite fit the mold either and that’s been hard.

She will be done with high school next week and I couldn’t be more proud of her. Middle school and High school have been pure hell. Not every child fits into the round hole of our American educational system and we have no good plans or support system when they don’t. I know this first hand. See when I was a teenager, I knew how to work my system and fly under the radar. Not healthy. I pretended to fit and worried so much about being good enough, I became an alcoholic. I want better for my daughter so I have spent the last 6 years fighting against a system that would have lost her and loses thousands of kids like her every single day. I have spent hundreds of hours meeting and emailing with teachers and administrators trying to understand. I’ve done all the necessary paperwork to get her extra support. I’ve cried, raised my voice and written letters. I’ve listened to teachers and administrators tell me over and over again there is nothing they can do, she has to smash her square peg in to the round hole at any cost. It’s wrong. It’s always been wrong and it will always be wrong until we stop thinking everyone processes the same and learns the same.

We fail our children when we don’t acknowledge that not everyone knows exactly the path to take after high school so always screaming “go to college” is the wrong message. Go to college if YOU want but don’t go because your parents want you to. Don’t force your child to be what you think they should be, let them be what they were created to be. There is no job too low because we all know we need the garbage man and plumber. If you knew at 18 exactly what you wanted to do for a career and you are older than 40 and still loving it, kudos. You are an extreme case. Most of my friends fell into work and they would do nearly anything to make a different choice 30+ years ago. Too many “I wish I had…” dreams piled up. Too many of us doing the volunteer work of our dreams because we have to pay the bills with the “real” job.

All of this rant to say, I implore you, if you have kids in school still fight for them. If they fit the round hole, great. If they don’t, take a deep breathe and launch in because your child needs to know you hear them, see them and believe them. You are their best advocate and that doesn’t mean that they are always right, it means that they have rights that just be held tight. Let your kids be what they want to be and if they don’t exactly know, help them just find a path that makes sense for now. Nobody needs to know forever, just for right now. Don’t live vicariously through your children, it’s not fair and it’s abuse.

Transition with intention to honor your children and yourself. Advocate well and find friends who become partners in the journey of parenting. Your children are worth the fight.

KA