A Misfit World

Feb. 24th, 2021

"I write because I'm living in a misfit world."

What do you do when your world fits you three sizes too tight? You've grown out of it. But you can't exactly buy a new one.

Instead, you sizzle. You sizzle and you boil and you burn with anger, and it's usually quiet but sometimes it turns loud. Sorry, Mom.

My mom told me that my heart is in heaven. Every morning I wake up and I see it! I see what the world COULD be, if only...

If only love was in charge and grace was the law and mercy was justice and justice was true. I see heaven on earth. And then the dream slips away and I remember. I am jarred awake by the realities: police brutality, pandemic perseverance, political upheaval. In our schools, mental illness is the real Director of Education. All my friends are fighting wars in their own heads. I remember that my small world and my limited time doesn't have enough space for the vastness of the life I want to have. The world cannot measure up to heaven. I cannot measure up to the person I dream I could be. And every day, that kills me. It's the hope. That relentless hope. Hope will crush you if you aren't careful.

I've outgrown my childhood optimism that the world already was good. Instead, in the mornings, when I put on a sweater and brush my hair, I also slip into a cautious optimistic hope. Today will be better. Today love will win. Today my average life will have a big, big meaning, a grand purpose.

Sometimes the hope suits me well. Other days, it's itchy and uncomfortable and all I want to do is escape. I wish I could fix everything, but I ain't God. Why doesn't God fix everything? Now, that's a question thousands of people much smarter than me have spent their lives trying to answer. And even they couldn't find it. So.

I guess I'm stuck with this longing and this painful hope. I guess I'm stuck desiring for heaven on earth when that's impossible. Last I checked, at least.

The world is the world. On an individual level - I can't do much to change it. I know it sounds real, real full of myself, what I'm saying. Do I think I could do better than God? Yikes! That's not what I'm saying. I don't think I could do better than God. I don't think that I should run the world. And I don't think God is micromanaging every detail of the world. If He was, oh boy, I'd have some issues with Him! Such as, why did you make my teeth require braces? And many other, ahem, more serious issues.

Humans are the ones micromanaging. God sees the big picture. I see a portion of the big picture, that utopia, that heaven, that gracemercyloveforgiveness. I only see a portion of what's possible. And when held up to what the world really is, that hurts so bad.

But the world needs people like me. Maybe you see it too. That's why I'm writing this today. So you feel less alone.

The world needs people who see What Could Be, so that in our own small ways, we can inch slowly forward towards that vision. The world needs people who bring tiny pieces of heaven down.

Most people love raising hell. I'll confess, I enjoy argument and rebellion and that sneaky feeling of getting away with something you're not supposed to, just as much as anybody. I've had to forcibly restrain myself from many a social media flame war, and I've failed on occasion (not without deep regret). Gossip is one of the most potent methods of bonding, unfortunately, and I am not immune. I am mean, I am careless, I am forgetful, I curse, I lie, I ignore, I rebel.

This is to say, I am absolutely no better than any other hellraiser on this planet full of them.

However, this particular hellraiser also is cursed, or blessed, with eyes towards the sky, a heart full of heaven. Those of us with our eyes to the sky tend to love art and music, because art and music are often pieces of heaven. We are empathetic, deeply hurt by the hurt of others. We are often quite creative. That creativity is a reflection of our own Creator. We have big ideas and we want to make them happen, but we often do not have the resources. We want the world to be a better place with a fury and desire that is so intense, it scares us.

This is a pretty common feature of the Type 4 on the Enneagram - which I am. Type 4 personalities Feel Their Feelings™ at a dangerously high intensity. We also love learning about ourselves. Yes, we're self-absorbed. Learning and recognizing that I am self-absorbed was a tough thing to come to terms with.

My personality type is self-absorbed and temperamental? "Yikes, not a good look, chief."

When I first read that here https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-4 , I was like, NO WAY! I'm not self-absorbed!!!!!! !!!! !!!! That's how strong my reaction was.

Do a little reflection, Addie. Just look at yourself.

Yes, this is brutal honesty hour, and I will spare myself no mercy (;

This whole post is literally about my own personal Feelings™. And most posts on my blog are elaborate descriptions of... my Feelings™. I care deeply about other people. I often put other people's needs before my own, or at least, I try to. Love for my friends and family is the driving force for many things that I do.

However, I am so self-absorbed that I admittedly would jump at the chance to live alone in an entire universe of my own creation. Now that's self-absorbed.

This was a long way of saying that I don't feel like the world fits me. To me, existence is like a pair of jeans a few sizes too tight. I don't hate it, and many times I love it. But if I had the choice, I'd live in a universe that fits. Sometimes you wake up, squeeze yourself into a too-small life, and you get mad that there aren't any jeans stores nearby. I'm mixing metaphors and reality now, aren't I? Meh.

There are many reasons I don't exactly feel at home in the world or feel like I fit in among others. This quote from the Enneagram Institute explains it pretty well:

"Fours maintain their identity by seeing themselves as fundamentally different from others. Fours feel that they are unlike other human beings, and consequently, that no one can understand them...

Fours often report that they feel they are missing something in themselves, although they may have difficulty identifying exactly what that “something” is. Is it will power? Social ease? Self-confidence? Emotional tranquility?—all of which they see in others, seemingly in abundance...

While it is true that Fours often feel different from others, they do not really want to be alone. They may feel socially awkward or self-conscious, but they deeply wish to connect with people who understand them and their feelings.

Fours typically have problems with a negative self-image and chronically low self-esteem. They attempt to compensate for this by cultivating a Fantasy Self—an idealized self-image which is built up primarily in their imaginations."

A core component of what it means to be me is the feeling of something missing.

Why does conversation come so much easier to others? What is that magical thing called confidence? Why aren't I a good actor or singer? Why can't I get good grades? Why can't I play piano? What's wrong with me? What am I missing? What's the secret? What's the key?

What does everyone else have that I don't?

To be me is to recognize that feeling fundamentally different than everyone else is going to be my primary pain.

To be me is to acknowledge that it may also be one of my deepest strengths.

To be me is to someday let go of the anger that the world doesn't work in my favor.

To be me is learning to stop indulging in my every melancholic whim and to start actually doing something about it.

To be me is to remember that there are others like me, and all of us think we're the only one.

I write because I'm living in a misfit world.

Because when I write, everything clicks. Everything falls into place just a little bit better.

I write, because when I write, I grow.

The melancholy, the longing for something impossible, it will never leave me. But I can find better ways to deal with it than lashing out at the people I love.

Weaponize your melancholy. Use it to change the world. Use it to create art, music, and beauty.

The beautiful thing about being a misfit is that you understand what it's like to, well, not fit in. You can use that understanding on behalf of other misfits.

Use that feeling to empathize with others who think they are different. Let's make all the misfits feel less alone.

Maybe then, we can turn a mis-fitting world into a misfit's world.

Who knows?


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