Kate, your questions for Best Boot Forward this week are tough. I felt myself slipping into a full on existential crisis for a while there. This week we're talking about fitting in and you asked us:-
- Do you feel you fit in and if so, where and who with?
- What prevents you fitting in? Should you accept this or change it?
- Are you forcing yourself to stick with something that is just not healthy or right for you? Who can support you to extricate yourself from that situation?
- If you could find your ideal place anywhere whether location or circumstances, where would that be and why?
Firstly, it's important to begin by saying that on the whole, I have never felt as though I fit in anywhere specifically, though I feel that this is down to my own lack of self confidence, as well as the way my life has taken a few turns.
I didn't hate school and I made good friends for life in both primary and secondary school but I fit in with the misfits. We were the drifters who didn't really fit in to any given group but weren't exactly excluded from any group either. The same went for college, with us all being on the fringes of the other cliques. This means that I have a diverse group of friends, and quite frankly I wouldn't have it any other way.
In my work life, I have had varying degrees of happiness. Never quite gaining a career, I work best within smaller teams and find that I can get along easily with many people, however I can be a bit meek and mild mannered which has held me back in the past. As I get older, I find I am less worried about offending people in order to get a job done and feel comfortable in my maturity.
When it comes to parenthood, I have never felt as though I fit in with the crowd. I was 18 years old when I had my eldest daughter, which it turns out is a bit of a limbo age to do the whole parenting thing. Not yet an adult but not young enough to be classed as a child, and utterly naive when it came to all things pregnancy and babies. I am from a lower-middle class background I suppose so while I didn't fit in with all the mothers of the "proper" age, I was still a bit more emotionally and intelligently mature than some of the younger mothers too. I never quite found my tribe at the time. Now, however, is a different story. I seem to have found many friends who had their first children young and who I have a lot in common with. Of course, these are women who are now all different ages and who have children of varying ages so again, I fit in with a diverse bunch o' mothers.
I'm also old enough now to feel as though I can rub along with other parents who are different ages and I'm enjoying new motherhood ten years on from my first time around, and again it's a case of feeling happier in my own skin, comfortable in my capabilities as I get older. Having things in common with people seems to get less important as I branch out a little more.
As with many of us, my lack of confidence has always held me back from fitting in. I suffer from quite bad anxiety too which doesn't help when it comes to self-doubt. As I've got older I have learned to manage my anxiety much better and pushed myself to go further than I may have done in the past, however I also feel that I have become more complacent in some ways too. There are areas in my life I would like to be more positive about and that will require some working on, such as progression in education and work.
I don't feel currently that I'm sticking with anything that isn't healthy for me, and generally I'm an impulsive person who will act on a gut instinct when it really comes down to it. In fact, I think I'm possibly a little too good at extricating myself from situations and need to learn to stick at things and see them through. I hope this will help me to find out a little more about myself and feel more fulfilled in general.
Reading back, though I stated at the start of all this I didn't feel as though I fit in, the evidence suggests otherwise. There's still a way to go, as even though I have friends here it can often feel as though I'm on the outside looking in. Perhaps this is more a state of mind and means that I just need to get stuck in a little bit more.
Finally, my ideal place to be right now would be in a more financially stable situation preferably stable enough to own a home and not to worry about what will happen if the car breaks down or if an unexpected bill lands. I'd like to travel more; possibly even live abroad for a little time, and experience a bit more culture and diversity than Wales offers. I'd like to eat more nice food, spend a little more time out of the house and see my family a little more often. Other than that, life is sweet and these things are achievable in the long run.