On the Periphery

I’ve always been on the periphery of life. I was born this way. I was held back in preschool because I wasn’t “socially ready.” I’ve always had a few close friends, but have never been popular….or what most would consider “normal.” If middle school taught me anything, it confirmed that I was, indeed, not cool. I carry this with me now as a thirysomething. It used to bother me, but doesn’t anymore. It is like my brown eyes: something that is a part of me that isn’t going to change. Sure, I could cover them up with contacts and look different; but at the end of the day, I still have brown eyes. It’s just the way it is and I accept that.

What does it mean to be on the periphery?

It means a guy treating you like a girlfriend, but when asked if you’re together, he says no, with that look on his face like he just smelled something bad. You’re not what they expect you to be.

It means not getting invited to the office Christmas party. I’m not sure if it was an oversight or an affront….but no one noticed I didn’t get an invite or wasn’t there. And the office busybody who coordinated the party never said anything to me. You are forgotten.

It means speaking from your heart to a loved one who happens to be one of the cool kids in life. Yet the moment you leave the room, they sneer at you and call you fake. Except you’re still listening and they have no idea you are still there. You will never be one of them.

That’s what it’s like to be on the periphery: slightly out of phase with the rest of the world.

I am on the outside looking in or behind the scenes unnoticed.  

There are things to glean from it, however, that most people miss out on for whatever reason.

I am content by myself. I am my favorite traveling companion and I have yet to be sick of my own company. I don’t need validation or applause from other people to keep moving forward. Sometimes it’s nice when it does happen, but it is not something that I need to survive. I like me, warts and all.

I see what others don’t. With my unique view of the world, I often see beyond what’s right in front of me. I’m the one lost among the leaves and can’t find the forest. Bible verses that allude to other things happening in the background blow my mind. It’s like in the parable of the Prodigal Son: notice how the father never speaks directly to his wayward son? After it was pointed out to me, I always look for things like that. Perhaps that just fits my personality.

I rely on God. When your human companions often don’t show up, blow you off, or as in my case, have always been too drunk when I need them the most, I turn to the Lord. When I was in therapy for my anxiety, they suggested I memorize chapters of scripture. I made Psalm 130 my rescue chapter – a mantra to self sooth. I memorized the first few lines in German: “Out of the depths I call to you, O Lord.  Lord, hear my voice.” It resonates within my soul. And He is always there. I don’t always hear His reply, but refocusing on the Lord has brought clarity to my heart.

And so, the story continues….

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