Rockin’ Your Inner Miss Fit

All throughout cinematic history, you see one example after another of protagonists, upon realizing that they don’t seem to quite fit the mold of everyone else around them, try desperately, and most of the time unsuccessfully, to fit in. To belong. To be one of the crowd instead of the outcast; one of the pack instead of blazing their own track; one of the many instead of one of the few. Of course, by the end of the movie, they overcome seemingly insurmountable odds only to figure out that the reason they don’t fit in is because they were born to stand out. It is usually the grand finale that finds our heroine replacing her beige pumps with fuchsia stilettos, ripping off the mask of ordinary she had donned to hide the fact that she was extraordinary, embracing her oddities and quirks and imperfections not as flaws and scars, but as beauty marks. Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls; Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed; Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde: all Miss Fits that realized that while the crowd preferred they not deviate from the script of mediocrity, they were born to live Oscar-worthy lives.

In various stages of my life, I’ve come up against people who, because I preferred to march to the beat of my own drummer, tried their best to keep me out of the band. In 8th grade, when I ecstatically made the cheerleading squad for the first time ever (and girls, you know what a big deal cheerleading is in middle school), I was banned by my teacher from also being a member of the yearbook staff because, quote: he “didn’t want one of those girls in his class who thought they were going to do it all.” After graduating college with a degree in journalism, I was told time and time again: “Get a REAL job, Mandy. You’ll never actually be able to get a job in TV.” Coincidentally, I went on to work for the local ABC affiliate in Nashville before moving on to Country Music Television. At another one of my places of employment (which shall remain nameless, of course) – I was shot dirty looks over the cubicle all day by my boss for wearing stilettos to work every day (“We’re going to have to break you of that habit!” she said) and for having lots of male friends (“Boys are always sniffing around your cubicle”) before being unceremoniously laid off due to “budget constraints.” Apparently the budget was so constrained that a week later, a much more beige, bland, vanilla replacement took up residence in my cubicle.

And is there any group of people that is MORE made to feel like they belong on the Island of Misfit Toys than single women? Being forced to sit at the kids’ table at family gatherings; joining your best friend and her boyfriend for a lovey-dovey trip to the movies and being promised that you wouldn’t be a third wheel, only to watch them make out the whole time; and having everyone you know trying to pawn you off on the guys they themselves rejected just because they can’t fathom the fact that you might actually be…((GASP))…content?! “She must be single for a reason,” they whisper. “She must feel so desperate,” and “What’s wrong with her?” I, personally, think the better questions would be: “What’s right with her?” and “How did she get so strong?” and “How do I get a little bit of what she’s got?” Because if you were born to stand out, and if you are marked for greatness, and if you blaze a trail of fabulous where before there was nothing but mediocrity; in my humble opinion, you deserve not my condemnation but my admiration! It takes GUTS to be you without reservations…to rock your truth with no apologies…to wear your boldest shade of red in a sea of gray.

There is a quote by Lewis Lapham that says: “The rugged individualist is too often mistaken for the misfit.” That’s the good news for those of us who are square pegs when the world is looking for a round hole. But I would also urge you, my rugged individualists, to redefine the word “misfit.” To look past the negative connotation of the word and decide, once and for all, that it is better to be a misfit than a one-size-fits-all. So maybe you’re an acquired taste…maybe you (like me) are neurotic and messy and opinionated and stubborn…maybe you think so far outside the box that the box doesn’t even exist for you…and maybe you’ve gone through your life feeling as though you never quite fit. I say, right this very minute…celebrate it. Throw your weirdness and your foibles and your quirks in the air like confetti and party like it’s 1999. Even if it’s just a party of one. Because believe it or not, sometimes a reservation of one is twice the fun! So let ‘em stare. Let them have their cage. Your multi-colored feathers were never meant to be beige!

As Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” Be bold enough to dance to the song that only your heart can hear…and pretty soon you’ll look around and discover that you are one misfit that was bold enough to write a greatest hit.

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