I often get asked why I chose my career field, especially when I go home. It’s not a common career path and I most certainly did not get here through common means. I do not think that anyone that knew me 15 years ago would have placed a bet on me living outside of the state of Alabama and working in a job that is decidedly nerdy. I also guess that is why I am so glad that God had different plans for me that what everyone else expected.
In grade school, I was never quite accepted. I was the smart kid. I was also a cheerleader. My family had not lived in that area for generations, so I didn’t have built in friends in the form of cousins and I was also more than a bit shy. There were so many things that I wanted to be when I was younger- but the most important of those things- was to be accepted as I was.
I grew up, I went through school, I found different friends that I fit in with a bit better-but I was also never one to follow the crowd. While everyone else might be at the bonfire after the ball game- I was most likely to be found in bed- because I picked up two additional sports in high school and that just left so little time for sleeping during the school week. But still- I never quite fit in. I was accepted. But I was also still the girl that didn’t quite get a date to prom.
I did find something when I was in the Air Force. I found people like me. I found people who were extremely smart and maybe a bit socially awkward, but were good to their core. I found people who understand me when I talk about relatively abstract concepts and things that I only believe are theoretically possible, but have not been proven to be possible. I found my people. The type of people that I knew existed when I was younger, but also did not know enough of them to know what a true range of ‘normal’ was for all of us. Part of what I love about work is that feeling- that 9 times out of 10- I will be accepted.
Now, I am not going to say I am cured of being the girl who was not really accepted. I still carry a lot of that girl that lived for so many years with not really being accepted inside of me. I don’t know how I couldn’t carry her around- she’s there and she sometimes rears her ugly head. Other times- she is the girl that reminds me that I chose- way back then- to follow a path in life that lead me to my happiness. That path did not mean bowing to peer pressure. It also did not mean that things were always easy- but I would not have it any other way. All of it points to one thing to me and that is that a big part of my happiness- is me being accepted as is and it was huge change for me when I finally found some people who did.
I don’t know anyone who does not want acceptance, but I do know quite a few people that took drastic roads to get there. Who did things that they later REALLY regretted just for a few moments of acceptance. So I encourage you to find a crew of people that like you as is, who do not expect you to go change your ways in order to fit in with them. You will have to be strong, you will have to know that they way you are isn’t a bad thing-but you will be so happy when you find that crew of people that accept you EXACTLY as you are.