Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Being Weird

I'm scared of being weird. I'm okay the quirky, lovable, just-a-little-bit weird, but the way-out-there, no-one-can-relate kind I've been avoiding my entire life. I've watched people discussing such weirdos. Said weirdo's name comes up and because the person talking can't find words to describe the enormous differences between them, they just raise their eyebrows and shake their head a little. That's what I'm scared of. Being one of "those people." Also being written off.

On the other hand, I'm scared of staying stressed, tired and sick. Our society's status quo creates stressed, unhealthy people and I'm no exception (though I really, really wanted to be.) I'm scared my kids'll grow up remembering their mom as tired all the time and unable join the fun. I'm afraid their teenage years will come and they won't have roots holding them deep in the clear identity a family culture provides. I mean, what culture can a family have when we're racing from thing to thing, giving instructions like a bullet list and once we actually arrive somewhere, investing our time and attention in friends or acquaintances. I'm afraid my kids will believe they can have it all, hectic and health, workaholic and family, madness and wholeness. I'm afraid they won't know it's okay to stop when you need to.

When I weigh these fears on my heart's scale, being weird is suddenly irrelevant. Still scary, but worth doing. So here's the truth I'm facing: I'm not getting better (partly) because I'm not letting myself rest. I take token breaks and there are hits life sends that aren't avoidable, but there are others I take voluntarily. I tell myself things like:

"It's a special situation."

"It'll be the last thing I agree to...for a while." 

"I'll get through it and then recover." 

This has become crystal clear recently and I'm perplexed (understatement) about the legacy I'm handing down. Brian and I talked it over and decided to consider our options when they take us away from home. Not mindlessly agree or give in to feelings of obligation or fear of missing out. Not only will we discuss these things with each other, we'll talk our options through with the kids and see what they're up for. A night out with friends or a family night at home? We're a house full of introverts, so being out and about after a week of extra activity is a set up for soul fatigue (a.k.a. intolerance and lack of love all around). 

It makes sense to me, so why is it weird? Everyone can relate to overwhelm. We're in the Age of Overwhelm. "Too much," everyone says. "There's just SO much." But when pushed to find The Thing we can remove, everything becomes untouchable. "Well, that's important because..." and "We started doing that because..." Indeed, it's ALL nice in the theoretical. But the problem is this: we imagine a twinkling holiday part with friends where real love is shown, but when it's sandwiched between the kids' sports and the end of year reports, we aren't really capable of being present and enjoying the evening. Our minds are on, "I'm so glad we found a babysitter at the last minute" and "when I get home, I better throw that uniform in the wash." It's too much. 

Too much makes a lot of good things mediocre or bad. We get stretched too thin and get grumpy. We start blaming people. Since we're on putting-out-fires duty, if something's going right, we skim past it (like kids' good behavior and spouses who help). Those who love us and rely on us to see the good in them start feeling invisible and lonely. Some shut down and some really amp up what they're getting done, since that's the only thing we notice these days. But just because they jump on board the crazy train, doesn't mean we're in it together. They wind up empty and tired and sad. Just like us. 

I realize this is oversimplified because magically, even those of us on the crazy train catch glimpses of what a wonderful gift our people are and if we're brilliant enough to say it, connections still manage to happen. But it's the exception rather than the rule. Can you imagine our levels of joy if we flipped this on its head!? Brene Brown says that human connection and belonging are undiminishable human needs. And in truth, most of what we do starts with that need, so why isn't it working?

I think part of the answer is in the way first world people visit poorer countries and marvel at how happy the people are. Maybe they aren't distracted from their undiminishable needs by shopping and events and getting their kids an introduction to EVERYthing they might be gifted in. Maybe while they're teaching their kids to grind corn into cornmeal, they can show them love. I feel like we haven't HAD TIME to teach our nine-year-olds how to fill the dishwasher. Something's wrong.

So...our journey in intentional living and minimalist time has come to this. All our triumphs so far, from no-spending to minimizing our stuff has given us faith to take this leap. We may end up the crazy ones, but we'll also be the crazy happy ones. The secure ones. The ones who forgot to follow all the exhausting rules and learned how to live. 


  1. Perhaps you are not weird, but discovering this before you are old and wish you had done things differently...ahead of your time. =)

    1. Maybe so, but it's my peers that are the hardest to be "weird" with. I have to fall out of love with people's approval or my (imagined) avoidance of their judgement. ;-P

  2. Welcome to the weird club Kendra! I made the decision to slow down, limit social obligations and cut back volunteer activities 4 years ago. I haven't looked back since. My counselor reminded me that what other people think of me is none of my business. I also found that those who were truly my friends accepted me no matter how big the differences.