The desire to fit in and be accepted doesn’t end when you graduate from high school or college. Most days I find myself spending way too much time and effort wondering what other people will think of what I wear or what I eat for lunch or what I write on my blog. It’s really quite ridiculous, because intellectually I know that most people probably don’t notice (and certainly don’t care about) what I wore to work today or what I consumed for lunch, but deep down there’s still a desire to impress and to feel like I belong.
Sadly, one of the places where I struggle most to feel like I fit in is at church. Being a single woman in my mid-thirties who’s never been married and has no children, I’m a bit of an anomaly to the typical churchgoers. Too old to fit in with the “young professionals” fresh out of college. Too young to hang out with the empty nesters. I’ve been in Bible studies and small groups and at social gatherings where I’ve been the only non-wife and non-mother, and I’ve sat silently through endless discussions of which OB/GYN is the most caring and which pre-school offers the best education. I’m not anti-marriage or anti-family by any means, but when you’re single and so many church programs and sermons and events are focused on families, it’s hard to not feel like you’re on the outside looking in sometimes.
It’s all too easy to compare where I am in life to where others my age are, which is why this post on The Simple Dollar blog really resonated with me today. The author debunks the myth of having an “exceptional life”, which is typically based on comparing your own life to others. He talks about making a great life for yourself instead that’s built around setting your own standards for your life. Here’s a tidbit:
“A great life comes not from comparing my life to the people around me, but from having a life that brings me happiness whether I’m by myself or around other people.”
I’m tired of wasting time and energy worrying about how my life looks in comparison to others. For one thing, looks are deceiving; I am sure that there are many people to whom my single life looks pretty sweet. The grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side of the fence.
What others think of my life really shouldn’t matter. My main focus should be on pleasing God first and foremost–admittedly, far easier said than done. There are probably going to be certain places and crowds in which I’ll never feel like I fit in, no matter how hard I try. I’m trying to let go of the need to make a good impression and just live my own life. I have to say, it IS getting somewhat easier the older I get, but it’s still a struggle.