Do you ever feel out of place? Like you don’t belong in a crowd of people? Or a group of friends? Or even your own family? Be assured that you’re not the only one.
I’m an introvert. I’m the quiet one, the one who won’t speak up unless you talk to me first. Kinda like a finch. I’ve heard finches are some of the quietest birds in the world. They still have a song, but you don’t hear it as often. Then, you have the other end of the spectrum. I have a bunch of starlings that live around my house and they’re noisy. You’ll always know when they show up. And I guarantee that if you put a finch among them, you’d have to look real hard to find it.
Lately, I’ve been feeling very out of place like a finch among starlings. I get together with my loud and extroverted family and I’m the awkward one just sitting at the counter. At work, I’m the quiet one who doesn’t quite get all the jokes my coworkers tell. I’m also the one who lives under a rock, so it’s hard to get into conversations when I have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. Then, there’s my online group of friends. We don’t know each other’s real names, but we’ve been talking and roleplaying for over 10 years. I’m the one who got us all together by starting the roleplay, but more often than not, that’s all I feel like I am. I try to get into conversations and write fanfics for my characters on there, but more and more I just feel ignored.
Maybe you have a group of friends, coworkers, or even family that you feel like you don’t belong too. It’s so frustrating, right? Especially if you’re an introvert. Everyone around you has all the boldness to say what’s on their mind and they’ll even have the guts to talk over you to make sure they’re heard. And, if you’re like me, you let them. You let them talk and say what’s on their mind, you be kind and listen because you hope they would do the same in return, but they don’t, or someone else barges into the conversation before you even get to finish and the topic changes so what you wanted to say is forgotten. To go a little further, maybe you give your heart to people, do something for them when they ask. You try to encourage them when they’re down. They appreciate everything you do and maybe they’ll listen to your encouragement, but when you need something done. When you need that encouragement, where are they?
I know there’s some people out there who have the mentality of “what do I get out of it?” They won’t do anything for anyone else unless they get something out of it. That’s kinda selfish, right? I mean, yeah, some people would say that’s smart, you don’t want people walking all over you, but what ever happened to the goodness of the heart? To selfLESSness?
I have to be honest. There’s a lot that I want to scream into this post. I mean, I had a pretty terrible day–some things were piling up and to top it off I found a tick on my side! Those of you who know me know how much that freaks me out. The way I’m feeling right now, I just want to complain. I want to complain about being a finch among starlings. How I asked for favors from some people, put my faith in some people, and got nothing in return. I want to complain about all the rejections I’ve been getting when I know my book is good, and I want to complain about the type of person I am and how easily a tiny tick could make me fall apart (although, it wasn’t that tiny…it was about the size of an eraser on the end of a pencil, so the stupid thing was huge!).
Even finches have bad days though. I mean, not everyone can be bright and encouraging all the time. Candles do burn out. That’s where selflessness can come in and save the day. One act. One encouraging word can change someone’s whole day. You don’t know what anyone’s going through. You don’t see what they don’t want you to see. You don’t see them running to the bathroom at work to hide their tears when they just heard bad news. You don’t see how they find a quiet spot to get away. You don’t see the scars on their thighs from wounds they inflicted themselves. Or the trouble behind the mask on their face. People always smile and say they’re fine, because it’s too uncomfortable to be NOT fine. Everyone says their fine because that’s the answer everyone wants to hear. If you’re not fine, then you’re not handling life right.
When did fine become the new normal? Fine sucks. Whenever I hear some say they’re fine, I admit, I have my doubts. One of the perks of being a finch is that you pay more attention to the subtle things people do. How often does someone look you in the eye? What are they doing with their hands? Are they tense? How’s their respiratory rate? Quick? Deep? Are they shrugging things off? Being distant? I need to asking “How are you” twice when I notice these things, because sometimes people need you to ask multiple times before they’re honest. I’m guilty of it.
We’ve let saying “I’m fine” become a habit. The words comes out before you can even stop yourself and though you think you should take it back, you decide not too because the other person has already accepted it. I’m even guilty of fighting back the second question. Someone will ask: “How are you?” And the automatic: “I’m fine!” comes out. They’ll lean in: “Are you sure?” and for a second that feels like weeks, my mind is fighting the battle of whether or not I should tell the truth. The truth doesn’t always win though. The truth is too messy and other people don’t need to be included in my problems. No one needs to see that I’m not fine. So, I smile and I shrug and I say: “Yeah! I’m great.”
This post has completely derailed from what I originally intended it to be about, but its content is still important–I think. I triple-dog-dare you to tell the truth the next time someone asks “How are you?” And I dare you to stop using the word “fine.” If you truly are doing alright, then pick a different word so people can believe it. Also dare you to ask beyond the “How are you?” We’re all stuck in this life together, finches and starlings. Might as well look out for each other and make selflessness the new normal.