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July 15, 2008

In, Out or Somewhere in Between?

J0439274From the time I was in kindergarten, I knew I didn't fit in.  A friend recently asked me how I knew that I didn't fit in and I couldn't really say, I just knew.  If you didn't fit in either, you can relate.   This friend that asked me, she always fit in, so she had no idea what I was talking about.

After experiencing the heartbreak of not "fitting in" throughout my middle school, junior high and high school years, I finally started to come to terms with it and by college had pretty much accepted that it wasn't me that didn't fit in, it was that people just didn't get me.  And, that was okay.

As I've found my place in the world as an entrepreneur, it's not only been okay, it's gotten really great.

Not fitting in as an entrepreneur is actually a good thing.  It means I can think outside the box and try things other people (people who fit in) would be scared to try and that's really good when it comes to being successful in business.

It's not so good though when it comes to being a mom.

Being a mom can be lonely.  Especially if you don't fit in with the other moms. The first 3 years of my daughter's life were some of the loneliest times I can remember.  I was working all the time and I couldn't figure out how to make any mommy friends.  I'd go to the park or the beach on the weekends and feel like a total outcast with no one to talk to.  It was high school all over again.  But this time with two little kids who wanted a lot of attention.

Finally, when my daughter started pre-school, I started to meet other moms.  Most of whom I didn't fit in with.  But, a few who seemed to get me.  And, life got better. 

Over the past few years, I've almost stopped caring whether I fit in.  I've found my stride.  I've not only accepted that I'm not like everyone else, but I celebrate it.

I've realized that the most important lesson we can possibly teach our kids is to not care about whether they fit in or not.

The only problem is that I have no idea how to teach that lesson. While I've accepted that I just don't fit in and learned to celebrate it for me, I really don't want my kids to have to experience the pain that came with the learning.

Is there some way to give them the benefit of the lesson without the experience that preceded it?

I may never know with my son. 

I showed up at his pre-school graduation and discovered that he's one of the most well liked kids in his class.  Watching him at the center of a group of boys all wanting to be close to him made my heart sing.

I think it may not be that way for my daughter though.  She's a little more like me and while she seems to make friends more easily than I did, I'm noticing the cliques and groups starting to form as she goes into third grade.  I can sense that she may be on the edge, not securely in the middle and it scares me to death.  I don't want her to experience the pain of rejection I experienced as a kid.

It brings back up all of the confusion and hurt I felt at not knowing my place, at wanting the security of knowing I was liked, and yet not knowing how to make that happen.  More than once I wonder if perhaps she doesn't care or even notice and it's only my old despair that is leading me to believe she's on the edge when in fact she's not.  And I wonder if maybe she already doesn't care about whether she's in, out or somewhere in between and that it's she who has something to teach me rather than the other way around.

Original LA Moms Blog post.  Alexis M. also blogs at the Intrepid Mompreneur and Family Wealth Secrets.

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