My mom’s family has always been on the outside.  The eight siblings didn’t seem to have any other friends but themselves.  My mom told me that she’s never fit in anywhere else.

I’ve always felt like an outsider too.  I befriended the kids who had no friends.  Usually, they were just shy kids who then became good friends with each other.  And I was on the outside again.

This was by choice.  There were some very nice popular kids in my grade who often made an effort to include me and anyone else who looked alone at the moment.  It was sincere and not a charity act.  I had great times playing, at sleep-overs and birthday parties.

But, I couldn’t handle it and would distance myself.  It wasn’t hard.  For one, I would never invite anyone over to my house and I never had birthday parties.  After we got a TV we only watched Disney and Road to Avonlea, so I couldn’t talk about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Simpons.  I read old books instead.  As a 9 year old who had read Gone with the Wind, I didn’t even speak the same language as my peers.  My clothes were hand-me-downs from cousins or from older sisters of boys in my class. 

Even with all this weirdness, I would have been accepted if I could have accepted myself.  I was ashamed of who I was from a very young age.  It was more comfortable to stay on the outside and feel sorry for myself than to risk people getting to know me and what I thought was inevitable rejection.


My church environment fostered this isolation.  We placed ourselves on the outside of mainstream Christendom.  We had a special revelation and a special annointing that God wanted to pour out on the earth.  But the rest of the world had rejected us.  ‘They’d rejected God’s moving’ we told ourselves. 

I’ve heard so many sermons with snide remarks about ‘the denominations’.  Its so common it goes unnoticed in everyday conversation.  We were ‘the first-fruits company’, ‘the chosen’, ‘God’s annointed’, ‘the manifest Sons of God’, everyone else was ignorant and yet groaning in anticipation for when we would reveal God’s plan to the world.  This attitude and still (or because of it?) we were rejected by the denomination we’d come from.

As I rebelled and became friends with Christians in other churches, I found this same us-them attitude.  Well, in the evangelical churches.  The Catholic churches I went to assumed they were mainstream and viewed other groups as peripheral and not to be taken seriously.

When I found myself outside of Christianity, I still felt like an outsider. 

The people I feel most at home with belong to the GLTBI group.  Another outsider group – although not by choice this time.

Perhaps, echoes of my family and old church group – I know something you don’t know, but I’m going to eject myself from you before you can reject me – are louder in my life than I’d like.

Leaving my group has made me feel like I am part of the rest of the world.  I’m even getting over the idea that I’m unworthy to belong and must hide.  But, I’m still used to being on the outside.

12 thoughts on “Outsider

  1. Lorena says:

    My family was weird, too. We were even weird in church. It would’ve been good for me to keep to myself, but I wasn’t shy. I went out into the world unaware that I was different, and I was rejected over, and over, and over, and over again. Always thinking that they were wrong, and I was right, and that I would eventually find people who understood how right and wise I was.

    Now that I understand that I am different (might as well have a horn on my forehead), I have lost faith in the human race. I have given up.

    Next in my life journey is learning to live with my weirdness and learning to trust people again, at some level anyway.

  2. I’ve felt like an outsider for different reasons, more akin to your reading of “Gone with the Wind” and not being able to relate with your peers. For me, I’ve given up trying to be on the inside or the outside, and just learned to be comfortable where I am, open to all, close with those open to me. Or at least that’s the direction I’m headed, which has been a pretty good trip so far.

    I don’t know if you’ll ever feel like your on the inside, that you’re part of the mainstream, but I get the sense that you are becoming comfortable with yourself. I have faith that you’ll make it someday to where sides just don’t matter anymore. 🙂

  3. David Holland says:

    The story of the ugly duckling is great literature, or should I say much of great literature has the elements of the ugly duckling.

    In my experience we first accept ourselves as we have been created, and from that foundation we accept others. Both steps in order are required because we are made to be social but we need something to give to really feel like we are part and we can’t give what we won’t accept.

    You know I’m a Christian, and you probably can see the shape of rules 1 & 2 in the previous statement. It works for me.

    I wish you good luck in the metamorphosis.

  4. Lorena says:

    we first accept ourselves as we have been created

    I am sure you realize that we don’t have to believe we were created to accept ourselves. 🙂

    • dsholland says:

      There are aspects of who we are over which we had (and have) no control and which shaped us (as an outside force). In this sense much of the person who we are was created. You too are a creation in this same sense regardless of your belief about the ultimate driver of that process, God or chance.

      I chose the word “created” specifically because who we are depends so much on things we have little or no control over. Temperament, appearance even health. Acceptance of these things helps us to understand and to recognize what we have to give.

      I stand by my choice of words.

      • Lorena says:

        Hey, you have every right to use any words you choose. However, your explanation doesn’t make much sense to me. It sounds like an effort to mix your religious beliefs with amateur psychology. A lot of preachers do that.

      • David Holland says:

        My religious beliefs mix with what I say, as do yours.
        If there is a God active in the lives of humans both professional and amateur psychology should correlate with His wisdom. If I said something misleading or in error please correct me. If your refutation of my comment is that my worldview is wrong, then we are at an impasse.

  5. D'Ma says:

    I saw the cartoon and thought, “hey, the naked pastor must know me!”. I’ve always been on the outside looking in, too. I’m different. It’s taken me a long time to be okay with it. I’ve even started to like it. 🙂

    When I was in grammar school I’m not sure why I thought I didn’t “fit in”. I’m sure there was a reason, but I don’t recall what it was. In jr. high and high school I never wanted to be a part of the trend. I didn’t wear big hair and leg warmers Flash Dance style, I didn’t care about Nikes or Reeboks, I had no clue who sang what, much less have posters on my wall and I could have cared less about death metal t-shirts. I didn’t drink or do drugs or smoke. I still don’t know what pot smells like, and I don’t think I’ve missed anything.

    I would always find myself making friends with the other shy, “nerdy” girls. I’m a bit of a social butterfly now, but still don’t like large crowds. I go into my shell, and find that other wallflower to converse with.

  6. Lorena says:

    And Prairie gets 1000 points for the right answer (B).

    A big reason people don’t like me is because they can’t bullshit me. Not only can I see the crap, but I have very little tolerance for it.

    In practical terms, though, that means that I’m a pretty lonely bitch.

    • prairienymph says:

      My husband used to have that magic horn. Apparently as a kid, he refused to talk to most of the people in church who asked how he was. His mom got mad and asked him why. He replied, “They don’t really care how I am so why should I bother.”
      She taught him to ‘be polite’ and his horn of BS detection eventually shrank.
      I always answered them, but said “Terrible!” with a smile. The usual response was, “Good, good. Thanks.”

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