Fitting In

Being a shy, quiet guy, I’ve created my own group of friends. In junior high I realized that I didn’t want to be involved in a certain clique based on my academic standing, my peers in the neighborhood or even based on all of my personal interests.

As a result, I had a wider group of friends. Some of my friends that were in my track for classes weren’t the same as the ones I knew from bowling. Other friends that were into the same music I loved were different than the ones I gained from work. To me it didn’t matter if you were the smartest, the prettiest, had the coolest clothes and car, or even how much or little money you had. I genuinely enjoyed meeting new people, getting to know more about them and being there for them in times of need.

For many years I got picked on for things out of my control. Contacts weren’t an option in my schooling years, so having to wear glasses meant years of ridicule. I have a genetic skin condition that to the average person makes it appear that I never properly clean myself, but I knew that back in the 80’s there wasn’t a direct cure to stop my skin from scaling like fish in the colder weather of late fall and winter.

When you have people make fun of you for aspects of your life that you can’t help, you learn to develop thicker skin. It may hurt on the inside, but I think your outside face benefits from not letting the others see how much it hurts. I stood strong, let names bounce off of me like glue and hung around the people who would build me up and not care about my nearsightedness or skin condition.

Thanks to social networking websites I’ve been able to keep in touch with a lot of my school mates and college friends. I think now more than ever we want to fit in- fit in to a time that moves at the speed of light sometimes. We want to capture memories, relate to each other and catch up for lost time.

One thing I’ve always been thankful for is the fact that my parents took an interests in my friends and peer groups- yet never made choices for me. They would let me fail in certain instances and learn hard lessons as a result. It’s so hard as you are growing up to be yourself- so keep that in mind as you look at your children, your friends, and your family.

Don’t judge the outside appearance as the totality of the person. Give people a chance- you might be surprised with the results.

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