This past weekend I was at my alma mater: the University of Michigan. It was only my second visit since graduating. I LOVE Ann Arbor. I LOVE U of M. I love the feeling of the city, and the energy of the campus. It is amazing. When I am there I am home and comfortable.
And it is also where I tried the hardest I ever tried to fit in to a group that was a “bad fit” for me.
This realization came about after finding a group that is a “good fit” for me, and has accepted me for me, and is happy to have me there. The difference is amazing.
I realize now how bad of a fit it was for me in the organization in college. I wanted to be there. I was energetic and excited. But as hard as I tried, I never made progress. I worked my ass off, and it was never good enough. The officials in the organization never learned who I was, never acknowledged me, never spoke with me, never said thank you. I was one of a nameless group. I tried. I did what people said: I always volunteered, always helped, always worked my ass off. It was never good enough. They only asked for more. In short, they broke me. Even worse – I let it happen. I should have realized that and realized that surrender is acceptable, but I didn’t – and it got me in to trouble.
I was so yearning for acceptance, and eschewed acceptance from so many other areas at Michigan – other friends, other organizations. I kept trying (volunteering, trying out for subgroups), and kept getting rejected. I loved the organization, but apparently love wasn't enough. It was just a poor fit.
I still tried because many others were like me, and succeeded. But not me. I failed. I struggled. I lost control. I lost sight of what was important. I worked such that I think people were afraid of me. I stopped joking around. I focused, and I still failed.
I didn’t participate in the organization my last two years: I did a co-op one year, and couldn’t bring myself to go back the next year. I remember that, as I walked to the information meeting the year after my co-op I started crying. One of my roommates – Melissa – talked to me, comforted me, and helped me to realize that it was OK not to go back. And I didn’t.
It was many years before I joined any organization again.
And then I found Team in Training. And there I found a good fit. And there I healed a lot of hurts in the past. I have learned that you can not avoid judgment by others, but you can only do the best you can do. And there I met a group that slowly showed me that it is safe to open up, showed me that it is OK to try; that I can have goals without losing sight of what is important because there is a mission much bigger than you are. I have met the most amazing people – all ready to cheer you on, share moments of joy and disappointment with you, and share a celebration. And you want to do the same.
As I have grown and gotten stronger I have taken on new challenges, and will continue to do so. I get to cheer friends on each time they do an event - and there are many events that go on within TNT and even more outside of it! I am grateful. I am proud. I am growing, and going beyond the safety of the organization, but not beyond the lessons I have learned, mission that keeps me grounded and not beyond my friends. In fact, it seems that we are all growing and changing and exploring new areas. And that is expected! It's exciting to be a part of so much activity.
Looking back I see the mistakes. And accept I can not change them. And am thankful that, even though I didn’t always do right by me, it has brought me to where I am and now I can do right by me. And I can make changes today. I have learned.
I need to be able to go in and be honest with myself – whether something is a good fit for me or not. If it is – great. If it isn’t – I need to know that it is OK to let go – that I will not disappoint anyone, and it is more important I stay true to me so I can affect the most good and enjoy what I do, instead of getting lost.
It has been a tough lesson, and I learned it the really hard way. However, I think the lesson was invaluable, and will serve me well as I continue to grow and love what I do, and explore new possibilities. I am excited again!