Sunday, September 29, 2013

on feeling marginalized


mar·gin·al·ize: treat (a person, group, or concept) as insignificant or peripheral.

Most of my life I’ve felt like a social pariah.  In high school, I was never pretty enough or athletic enough to be accepted. (I wish I’d known then the importance of music and that it would one day become a career for me, so that I would have felt less horrible about it. None of the popular kids in school use their athletic ability or good looks in their career, which makes me sound petty and small, but let’s face it, all us social pariahs think this way. … if we’re being honest.)

And I really thought the social pariah status would go away at some point in my life. But then this happened.  And two big emotions caught me as a result: in the moment, complete relief. As my post says, I actually felt a weight lift from my shoulders when I was told that there was a reason no one understood me and it wasn’t my entire fault. In the years since, though, I’ve also settled into a rather unsettling emotion: insecurity.

Now that I understand there is little I can do about my status as a social pariah, I am far more aware that I ever have been in my life in how others see me. And since I am the rarest of all personality types, others see me and go, “huh?” Or others see me and dismiss me, which causes me to crawl into the dark corners of my heart and ask, “Is it something I am?” all the while knowing there is little I can do to change how God wired me. All of this equals a lot of insecurity.

I’ve reached a point in my life that when moments of marginalization occur towards me, I can step back from the situation and do my best to be objective. Though my emotions are often intense and deep, I know this happens in part because of my past experience with being that social pariah. And some of it now is also because I am a social pariah. It’s just so… confusing. People don’t get me.

So I process. Part of this is simply trying to give people the benefit of the doubt and think the best: that they did not intend to make me feel the way I do. I have to own the feelings I have and figure out which are justified feelings of marginalization and which simply stem from past experience.

(I’m starting to wish I’d taken my professor’s advice and taken the degree in counseling. Perhaps I would be less of a mess.)

But here’s the rub, and I think this is true for just about everyone:  We all just want to be known.
And when you break that down, all that means is that you want to find your place. You want to belong. I am in a place in my own life where I just want that to point to Jesus. But I also want to stop these feelings of sadness, frustration, acceptance, vulnerability and insecurity.

This last May, I was told by a blogger I admire greatly and love reading, that of just under 100 submissions , I was one chosen to guest post while he took a break from blogging to write his book. Week after week I watched a guest post go up… and four months later mine is still not up. I still have the email where he told me I would be one of the few, so I have to remind myself I’m not delusional. But there is also part of me that finds herself feeling like that 14-year old girl who cries and says, “Why is it always me that is rejected?” Left out? The freak?”

Being vulnerable is never easy; it’s especially difficult for someone who struggles to suppress her idol of reputation. (Ahem, me.) And what I hate is that my idol here is most likely A DIRECT RESULT of being a social pariah; marginalized, and seen as “less than” most of my life.


To be known. What is it, really? How does it happen? Why is it so important? We want to be people who matter. And it is hard to see that outside of who we are. 

2 comments:

Tara Guffy, LLMSW said...

Wonderful article, Stephanie. I can relate on so many levels. I see you, I hear you & I thank you :)

Pine Mountain Walker said...

You're not alone. It is a sad place indeed.
Thank you for your words.