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The You-Shaped Space

I loved Tigger’s post about feeling like an imposter, feeling as if she belongs somewhere for a bit, and then feeling in turn as if she doesn’t belong somewhere as she notices the rest of the people in that situation.

Don’t we all keep saying this?  I read it in blog posts, and I hear it from the twins, and I hear it from their friends, and I hear it from my friends.

We sound like a world of people who don’t belong anywhere.  Or maybe we belong everywhere.  Or maybe we defy physics and we belong nowhere and everywhere at the exact same time.

This is where we all belong: in our you-shaped space.  I am Melissa, and I belong in my Melissa-shaped space.  And you are YOU and you belong in your You-shaped space.  And inside that space, we draw all the people we love, and all the people we like, and all the people we merely endure.  We bring in our jobs and our dream-jobs and our houses and our dream-houses and our laundry piles and ice cream cones and all the arguments and accolades.

And that is where we belong, in a space solely defined by ourselves rather than the other you-shaped spaces we see around us, much in the same way that each puzzle piece is its own entity, rubbing up against the other pieces, but not bending itself to be anything other than its puzzle-piece-shaped space fitting amongst the other puzzle-pieces.


Image: Trompevenlo via Flickr


1 Brid { 05.25.13 at 1:08 pm }

Mel, you’re so optimistic. I think this has to do, in part, to some mass self-esteem deficiency. Not only do I feel it, but I also see it everywhere, in every moment of judgement. I don’t know why it seems there is so much judgement all around, but all it does is make people second-guess themselves. Rotten.

2 Stupid Stork { 05.25.13 at 2:49 pm }

I think the older we get, the more we build up our own specific experiences and unique details, and it makes us our own specific universe. Sometimes that feels beautiful and other times it feels like it’s just serving to further isolate you from everyone else.

3 Mali { 05.25.13 at 8:05 pm }

Beautifully said. I wholeheartedly agree with this.

4 a { 05.25.13 at 10:05 pm }

@Brid – having experienced this much of my adult life, I don’t think it has much to do with self-esteem. I have abounding quantities of self-esteem…except when it comes to interpersonal relations. I never feel like I fit in or have anything in common with other people. On the other hand, it’s not like I feel like I”m something special either.

I think there is a distinct feeling that comes when you really connect with someone else. For some people, that connection can be somewhat superficial – you only have to connect in a few areas. For others, the connection must be in most areas – the non-connecting areas can overwhelm the areas of connection. For someone like me, building a history is the most effective way to find that connection – it happens over time and requires lots of interaction. But I can’t really break into a pre-existing group. And that feeling of belonging is so tenuous. Most of the time, I feel like I don’t fit into my own family.

5 Tiara { 05.26.13 at 6:36 am }

This made me cry…not sure why. Maybe because I’ve never felt like I’ve ever really fit in anywhere & have always beat myself up for it. You’ve stated this so perfectly…I want to teach my daughter to only worry about her-shaped space so she doesn’t worry so much about wanting to belong

6 Justine { 05.26.13 at 8:39 am }

I never fit in. It led me to some serious psychological self-sabotage. But I’m not sure I’d make us puzzle pieces at all, because that assumes we have to fit together, even if we are unique.

What I think is more important is feeling supported in the you-shaped space. That you are OK with you being you-shaped, and that you feel loved and supported in you being you.

7 Jamie { 05.26.13 at 5:40 pm }

I adore this.

8 Chickenpig { 05.27.13 at 7:01 am }

The disconnect for me isn’t about feeling like I don’t belong, but missing parts of the road. Every once in a while I look around my house and feel “How did I get here? This isn’t my house.” It’s like the last couple of years have been so busy and filled with unhappy things that I don’t remember the actual process that got me here. Sometimes I look at my kids and I can’t believe they are actually here. It is like for a second I feel like I really belong in an alternate universe where we never managed to have children and we are still living in our other house. Then I snap out of it and everything is back as it should be.

9 Lori Lavender Luz { 05.27.13 at 1:56 pm }

Gorgeous way to help people justify their existence (not that any one should need to do so).

I aim to fully occupy my me-shaped space.

10 Frozen OJ { 05.28.13 at 2:57 am }

I loved this! Especially the part about the puzzle pieces. I really felt like I didn’t belong in the miscarriage group because my loss was so early, and it took awhile for me to understand that just because others wouldn’t be as affected doesn’t mean it’s wrong for me to be. As someone who prided herself on not caring what people thought about me most of my life, it was a very weird feeling for me. Now I am completely happy occupying my Tasha-shaped space, and I hope I can remember that freedom to be me in the future.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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