Being An Outsider
FamilyGrowing Up

I’ve Never Really Known Where To Belong

In high school, my personality was almost malleable. I floated in between social circles, morphing my identity into whatever made me fit. I didn’t have a core thing I was. I wasn’t an athlete, wasn’t a theater kid. I wasn’t in leadership class. I wasn’t a stoner. I wasn’t popular, but I wasn’t unpopular either.

I just existed, adapting to whatever environment I found myself in.

My after school activities including solo lip sync battles and making YouTube videos with my digital camcorder long before YouTube was what it is today. It was the one community I felt I’d created a space for myself. But that was online. That was in the computer and in my room and wherever I decided to film my next over-the-top skit. It didn’t translate to school. Now people literally call themselves YouTubers. Who knew? I could have run with it.

Sophomore year, a boy once asked, “What do you like doing?” and I stressed about it for weeks.

What did I like doing? What made me me? If I suddenly died, how would my obituary read?

I consider myself an introvert. But also an extrovert? ENFP to be exact, according to Heidi Priebe. I am easily overwhelmed around too many people, but I went to Nashville by myself for a month and was MISERABLE. I’m in love with silence, but equally in love with talking until my voice gets hoarse.

I keep trying to define myself with one concrete thing and each time, it feels incomplete.

I know that labels are one dimensional. I know they can’t ever fully describe an entire human being, but they do give a sense of belonging. It’s that community thing again. It’s saying, “You are this and so am I. Welcome.”

Maybe I want to be defined. I know, I know, as a woman, I fight being put in a box so much of the time (THANKS, PATRIARCHY), but what if, sometimes, for just a little, I want to hang out in the box?

I want others in the box with me to recognize my box traits and say, “Same!”

I want to look around and be so consumed with how perfect the place I am is, to know I’m home.

I want to tell that high school girl so unsure where she’s supposed to be that I’ve found a spot. And it’s so good and no one is asking her to change.

No one is asking her to be anything she isn’t already. And she belongs. And she never has to leave. She can stay as long as she wants. TC mark

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✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨ Follow Ari on Instagram or read more articles from Ari on Thought Catalog.