I was at work the other day. I was walking around the floor doing what I always do, observing my surroundings. I watched the people eat with their families. I heard the pockets of coworkers socializing. I straightened out the condiments and the tables, realizing that I was again on the sidelines of the world going on around me. I kept my head down and I did my work. I stopped for a second, knowing that I fit in but realizing that there was a part of me that felt left out. I was confused on how I really felt about it. I was at this place where I have always felt welcomed but in that moment I realized for the fist time that I wasn't quite what I used to be. My mind goes down these paths where I start to analyze my life, over analyze at times sending me into a weird sort of tail spin. I started to question whether or not it was that things around me changed or was it just that I have changed. For a moment I let myself go down that rabbit hole. I allowed myself this luxury of letting my mind wander even to the parts I should have stayed away from. I looked over at the table full of college kids laughing with each other. I closed my eyes and listened to my coworkers jokingly tease each other. I let myself accept that I would always be somewhere off to the side in this life. I questioned the part of me that was sad that I didn't quite fit right, whether here or there. I told myself that for a second I would be sad about it, be mad about it... And then I let those feelings go. I chuckled to myself and moved on. I acknowledged these little tornadoes of doubt in my head and then I shooed them away like a fly in my coffee. As I stood there in the middle of that dining room with the world going around me I realized that I am OK with not fitting quite as I should. I have learned to finally embrace this part of me that has never wanted to be part of the crowd.
When I was younger, I was just like every other kid out there. I wanted to fit in. I thought if my hair was a little bit blonder or my eyes were blue instead of dark brown or if my waist was smaller everyone would instantly love me. I thought if that if I was just like everyone else then people would accept me and I would be part of this cool group that always had the most fun. I remember being ten years old, daydreaming about being that perfect Arian and thinking that I wouldn't have a problem in the world. The boys would all like me. The girls would all flock to me. I would be better than everyone else. Thankfully as I grew I threw away those ideals of perfection. I realized the color of my hair didn't mean a thing. I found beauty in the darkness of these eyes. When the boy told me once that he saw the Devil in them I found pleasure in that, making me proud of the wickedness that twinkled though I've never had a wicked bone in me. And the thin waist? I've learned that my body is lovely whatever the size of my waist. I have learned that someone else's standards of beauty don't mean a damn to me. As I got older I realized there were parts of me, so many beautiful parts of me, that just weren't meant to fit. I saw movies by myself. I wore clothes with too many holes. I got tattoos and piercings and had a kid and struggled through so much of my life but it was my life to live. I've struggled at times with being so introverted. I have felt the weight of not being noticed. I admit over the years I held so much anger for being brushed off, left behind, pushed to the side. I've wanted to scream at people to look at me, to just notice that I am around, to please take some care of what I do in the background. It is a demon that I still battle with to this day but I know the minute you look at me I will retreat. I will prefer the comfort of the sidelines and I will run away before you even remember I was there. I joke with my husband sometimes that I'm like a cat. I want you to pay attention to me but only on my terms.
When I came out of that rabbit hole the other day, I laughed at myself. When I had observed everything I could and analyzed as much as I allowed myself, I laughed. I thought about all these people I used to be and smiled at this woman I am now. I could accept being a little off. I can accept that I won't be everyone's piece of cake. I prefer to be off to the side, quietly doing what I do because that quiet girl is who I have always been. Right before my sophomore year in high school I decided to go my own direction. I stepped away from the friends I had made. I retreated to my room for months, losing myself in words and pictures. I sat for hours quietly by myself, contemplating on who I wanted to be, who I wanted to become. I wanted to figure out who I was truly, deeply. I wanted to accept my red hair and my deep, dark eyes, wanted to find the beauty in myself without what everyone else was telling me I should be. I didn't want to play their reindeer games anymore. I wanted to understand what being alone meant, how I could be enough for myself without any affirmation from the world outside me. And when I learned all that I could from that loneliness I stepped back into the world again but with a different view point. I learned how to stand next to you without being exactly like you. I learned that not fitting this mold was OK. I could be the person I wanted to be and still be a part of the world around me. The other day, standing in the middle of the dining room, separated from my surroundings, made me think of that girl who intentionally walked away and she made me smile. I don't care that I'm a little strange. I don't mind that my head wanders off too far sometimes. I don't worry about how other people see me because the people who do truly see me are the only ones that matter. I won't be what every man wants. I don't want to be that popular girl that everyone wants to drink Kool-Aid with at the cool table. I want the people in my life to be people that accept me despite my imperfections, that understand sometimes I need to find a corner, that sometimes I need my space. I need people in my life that understand I prefer the sidelines. Being exactly who I am has always been more important to me than being what someone wants me to be. I've been down that road and it only led me to unhappiness. If age has taught me anything, it has taught me that being comfortable in this soul is the only way to find happiness. I don't mind that I'm not a part of that table full of laughter. I don't mind that more often than not I'm lost on my own made up adventure, dreaming about all the wonderful places I could go. I am thankful that I am not scared of my own company, demons and all. I find comfort in being not quite right. I find comfort in these rabbit holes.