I have always, as long as I can remember, felt like an alien, like someone who doesn’t fit in. Socially awkward. Easily tongue-tied. Very often feeling like I don’t know what normal people would say in a given situation and I’m pretty sure that what I said is not what was expected. Very often feeling that people don’t get me, that they don’t understand what I mean or how I feel or why I behave the way I do.
Something I’ve learned from my own experience of life: the feeling of being an alien can easily cause us to withdraw into our shells, but if we do that we just become more and more isolated and we miss out on those rare-and-precious times when we might find that someone does understand. It costs a lot, taking those risks, but I feel it’s worth it – so once in a while I push myself to be real with another human and risk their reactions, because once in a while their reaction is positive, and that’s so wonderful! if I stay in my shell I won’t get hurt, but I won’t get hugged either.
what helps me when I take these risks of being myself and find that people don’t understand? this is what helps me: knowing that there are people who do get it (even if they are very few), knowing that God does understand and that he loves me as I am, and… oh yes, me being ok with how I am, not needing others to tell me I’m ok.
I’m saying this today, and last night I took a couple of risks like that – one that totally paid off, when I shared something in a home group meeting and got really positive reactions, people really listened and understood and it was fabulous and healing; one that didn’t pay off in that sense, but it was good for me as I found that I didn’t really mind that the other person didn’t get it, which tells me I’m getting better at this stuff – but you can’t get better at it without practice.
I’ve been using the nickname Berale in some places online – it’s the yiddish word for “snail”, and I chose it partly because I operate at a snail’s pace, but also because of this tendency to hide in my shell. But I keep working on that tendency, because I know that if I stay inside my shell, I will miss out on lots of good stuff.