Do you ever feel like your cart always has a wonky wheel? You know, the one that spins sideways instead of going forward like the other three? Or perhaps it’s an issue somewhere in the wheels resulting in a loud chirping sound that suggests you might be smuggling baby birds. Maybe it is just a slight offness that causes people in Wal-Mart to gaze in your direction as you pass. People. In Walmart. Looking at you like you’ve maybe ventured out into the world without pants. Imagine.
If you know you know, and boy do I know.
As a child, I found the claymation Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie painful to watch because I related so profoundly to those misfit toys. Year after year I waited to be noticed, to be accepted, for someone to recognize and embrace what was special about me, for my opportunity to shine, to be exceptional. It never seemed to arrive. At least not in the way I expected.
To some, I might look normal, but most of my life I felt like a Charlie in the Box or a doll without a nose.
If my phone can go off at an inopportune time, it always will. If I spend an exorbitant amount of money on a candle, the wick will flop over and render it useless. If I step out of my comfort zone and sign up for a secret Santa gift exchange, the person I’m paired with will have a vibrator and Mr. Potato Head on their list. For a long time I saw this as a shortcoming…some inherent flaw that drew more flaws to me. Like flypaper, but flawpaper.
I wrote in Post-its and Polaroids that I could never be blonde enough for my mom. Still true. When I visit her in the nursing home where she’s suffering from dementia, multiple broken bones from a fall, and a six-inch long list of diagnoses, she asks, “When are you going to do something about your hair?” of my grown-out balayage.
It’s hard when people who are “supposed” to love you don’t recognize or appreciate your goodness. It doesn’t have to be debilitating though.
It took me almost 50 years, but I’m embracing my inner misfit toy.
My phone might go off at inappropriate times and result in dirty looks, but it might be a friend reaching out to tell me that their heart is breaking. They know I will be there to listen and hold space for them.