Birth to 38.
I was on the outside. Looking in. My face pressed up against the glass. My fingers leaving telltale smudges that spoke of longing. Of wanting to be included.
It didn’t seem to matter where I traveled to or what terrain I crossed. There was always a message that drifted on the breeze: you don’t belong here.
It’s not that I wasn’t happy during those years — I was. At least in part. But I always felt a disconnect. I never felt as though I could fully be myself and still be accepted.
When I first began writing, I didn’t know exactly where my words would take me. All I knew was that the words needed to come out. It was an exploration with an unknown ending. It still is.
I noticed that the more I wrote, the more I felt in tune with myself. And I had a deep desire to connect with others who were on a similar path as mine.
I wanted to be part of a community where I felt that I truly had a place. Like a welcoming circle of friends around the campfire.
I started looking for my people. I’d scour the digital world searching for others who seemed to be sharing a message that resonated with my own. But somehow something wasn’t clicking. I still had that outside looking in feeling.
There seemed to be an array of female entrepreneurs who were so effortlessly put together. So flawless and perfect. I’d watch their video blogs and see their sleek hair and stunning makeup. And I just couldn’t relate to them.
Eventually, feeling slightly weary with it all, I decided to stop looking for a camp to join, and I pitched my own tent. Right there where I was. I didn’t really know exactly what I was doing. Actually, scrap that — I had no clue what I was doing.
But I went ahead and did it anyway.
I wondered if my self-made shelter would cave in on me. Maybe it would rain and I’d end up all soggy and sad and crawl back home to safety.
But the rain didn’t come. My tent stayed up and, even though it was a solitary dwelling, I liked it. I wasn’t on the outside. I had created my own space and I was in it.
On the nearby roadside, I put up a sign. I shared information about who I was, and the dreams and visions I felt inspired to manifest. The sign was a little lopsided. The lettering wasn’t perfect.
I planted some seeds around the little patch of land where I’d decided to dwell, and I lovingly tended to the earth. Days passed. I’m not sure how many.
Every now and again, I’d find myself thinking, Am I doing this right? Is this the patch of land I’m supposed to be on? What if I’m getting this all wrong?
My only guide was my centuries-old soul. Occasionally I’d hear it whisper: Hang on.
And then things started to happen.
People found me. The patch of land became a campsite. Women from far and wide started setting up their own tents next to mine. Some stayed. Some left. Some came back. Some just passed through.
We sat around the campfire. We shared secrets and unburdened weights.
We let go of old stories that the world had written about us, and we encouraged each other to pick up the pen and write new chapters. Brave, new, unexplored ones.
We were all ages, all shapes, all colors and sizes. We were all a little bit wounded, all slightly scared and uncertain. None of us was perfect. None of us pretended to be. And in every pair of eyes that looked back at me, I saw echoes of myself.
That’s when I finally came home to me. When I truly realized that the only groove I needed to fit into had always been right there, within me. By accepting myself, I’d found others who lovingly accepted me as well.
Sometimes our people are looking for us too. Sometimes we just have to stay still, set up camp, and let them know we’re there. Not be afraid to tell the world who we are and what we stand for.
You’ll know your tribe when you find them (or when they find you). They are the hearts who will uplift and elevate you. In them you will see your own joy, your own open wounds, your own wonder.
They will hold the space for you to step into your most empowered self. Their love, support and encouragement will help you keep going on the days when your own energy has seeped too low.
They will stand beside you as you face challenges and uncertainties. They will not fight your battles for you, but your struggles will seem less severe because of their warm embrace.
Their love is not an oppressive one. They will not speak for you, nor over you. They will simply rejoice in your own individual expression and be there for you.
Your tribe are the ones who will welcome you and usher you into the fold when they see you coming. Theirs are the voices that will say, “Come in, come in, sit. There is a place for you at our table.”
If you’ve ever felt despondent about not fitting in, if (like me) you felt as though you were wandering for too many years without truly feeling a sense of belonging, please don’t give up. Please keep believing in you.
Don’t ever doubt that there is a space for you in this world. That there are people who will love you and value you.
In any given corner of the globe, you will find those who might not support your vision. Their choices and beliefs may not be aligned with your own. That’s okay. You don’t need to join that camp. Keep walking.
As you move forward on your trail, you will come to a place where the earth is lovingly calling your soul, like a home from three lifetimes ago that you’d forgotten to remember.
You might look for the others and see that there are none. It doesn’t matter. Pitch your tent anyway. Put up your sign. They will come.
Write that first line. Take that first step. Believe in the beauty of who you are, and honor your own path.
Photo credit: Leon Cato Photography
Also published by Rebelle Society