Monday, January 18, 2016

All I Ever Wanted Was To Fit In

When I was a kid, I wasn't like other kids. I stood out no matter where I went. Kids always picked on me for using "big words" that they couldn't understand. Nobody else I knew loved books as much as I did. I was pushed out for being too smart, too short, and too different. It was painful. All I ever wanted to do was fit in with them, be like them, be accepted by them.

But God Didn't Let Me

He wouldn't answer my prayers for that. I never did become like the other kids. I tried to make it happen in junior high. I stopped working hard to get good grades. I tried to play dumb, but I wasn't good at pretending and the only thing that happened was that I felt worse about myself. So I quit that garbage.

Of course, next year I would find out that standing out is exactly why my husband noticed me. I stood out. I was unmistakeable and unforgettable. And he was incredibly attracted to that brain inside my head. When I bemoaned the fact that I didn't have a bunch of guys just dying to be with me because I didn't have big boobs, it was my husband who pointed out that what I wanted was to be loved for who I was - not what was in my bra or panties.

God never did let me fit in. Sixth grade was when I first began to see why. That year, for no particular reason, I decided to make fun of a boy in our class with an unfortunate last name. Before long, the whole class was doing it. And then, it spread to the entire sixth grade. That boy couldn't go anywhere without people taunting him.

And then, one day, I realized what I had done. I had started this, and it was up to me to end it. I stood up to the popular kids when they were laughing. I looked them straight in the eye and said, "It isn't funny."

Within days of my speaking up, most of the taunting had stopped. And before long, nobody was doing it anymore. That's when I realized a terrible truth: I was a leader. 

I Was Born To Stand Out

People need leaders, but leaders have to learn to stand apart from the crowd. They have to be strong enough to continue heading in the right direction even when everyone else is questioning their judgement and telling them they're headed the wrong way. They can't be followers. They can't go with the flow. And they can't cave in the face of sometimes supremely cruel treatment by others.

Because I Was Born to Lead

The reason for this is that leaders are leaders whether they want to be or not. You don't have to ask someone to follow a leader. They just do. They recognize the leader as going somewhere, and they follow along. That means a leader has tremendous power to do both great good and terrible harm. A good leader will save their followers from certain destruction. A bad leader will take them straight over the cliff with them.

I did a lot of that in my younger years, not even realizing I was doing it. I didn't think what I did mattered. I didn't think anything I did mattered. Then, when I was finally starting to straighten my life up, I heard someone who had followed me into destruction tell me, "You were always my moral compass," and I knew how much damage I'd done. I had failed that person completely. I had led them into great harm just because I wasn't using my leadership skills wisely.

That's the Hard Part About Being a Leader

You don't get to choose whether or not you are a leader. Eyes watch you whether you want them to or not. People imitate your behavior whether you want them to or not. And they will follow you over the side of the cliff whether you want them to or not. so you must always be on guard with your life and your behavior, to be sure you're leading them in a direction that will be healthy and not harmful.

You Can't Fit In, and You Can't Resign

Everyone wants leadership until they have it. Then, you realize just how much responsibility you have - and its yours whether you like it or not. You can't stop people from following, and you'll never really fit in with everyone else. You'll never be like everyone else because that's not what they need from  you.

The people that follow you need you to be different. They need you to stand out so they can find you. They need you to be that compass in their life that points them in the right direction and helps them find the way. And sometimes, they need you to love them enough to say what has to be said even when it means they turn away from you or mock you or don't like you.

But you can't resign from the position, anymore than you can decide to resign from being green eyed or brown haired. You can pretend to be something else, but nobody else is going to be fooled. You'll just end up feeling worse about yourself.  Leadership is something you're born to do, and it will always be part of you. 

So Embrace It.

If you're that weird kid that doesn't fit in, that nobody understands, embrace it. Your differences make you stand out, but that's because people need you to learn to stand up for what's right when everyone else is sitting down. 

Will you be bullied? Yes. You will. I certainly was. But know that this is to prepare you to stand up even when your own life is in danger. Because if you don't stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves, no one else will. You're a leader, and that means putting yourself in the position to take lumps for everyone else.

But Being a Leader Isn't All Bad

You can do a lot of good by being a leader. You can help people become their best selves, give them the encouragement they need to flourish, and put a stop to the things that are wrong. But to do that,  you have to own it. So be a leader. And be a great one, because that's what you were meant to be.

Popular Posts