Misfit. Loser. Freak. Words like these have the tendency to hit us in the heart like a runaway train…Yet, in our mad, mad world, words like these (and oftentimes worse) are common for many young adults among their peers.
When the topic of bullying appears in discussion, we often think of a few teenagers gathering around a lone punk rock kid, verbally and physically attacking them in their isolation. Yet, what if bullying – particularly among teenagers and young adults – is much more expansive than the obvious moments in school hallways?
The first year I attended high school was much more difficult than I expected. I was in 10th grade, had been homeschooled my entire life, and really wanted to find a place where I belonged. I was taller than most guys in my class and I played basketball, so I instantly earned some credibility with the athletic community. I was off to a good start. Yet, over the course of that year, it was quite apparent that I was a misfit and a loner. I tore the ligaments in my ankle and didn’t play much ball that season…The credibility was waning. No longer was I the cool athlete. I didn’t “get” the inside jokes, the majority of the school came from wealthier families, and the cliques existed long before I arrived. It wasn’t a moment in the hallway that left me feeling like a misfit; it was a consistent pattern of indifference from my peers. Words and violence weren’t the catalysts of my feelings of inferiority. Indifference and the feeling that you’re invisible leave their own kind of scars upon your soul.
We live in a crazy world – one in which we find bullies of all shapes and sizes. Whether it be in the workplace, high schools, a community of faith, or another environment, there is the silent enemy of apathy and indifference.
In retrospect, I’m grateful I wasn’t cool, I didn’t have expensive things, and I didn’t meet the ridiculous standards of my peers. Why?
What if I never learned how to stand alone?
Would I have ever cared about the search for truth?
Would I have ever learned to be comfortable in my own skin?
“It’s the children the world almost breaks who grow up to save it.” – Frank Warren
It’s often the corners of darkened rooms where we meet God, hiding for fear that we’re inadequate and lacking. It’s in those moments that, if we tune out the critics, we can see the intricate and unique heart He has placed within each of us. It’s in those moments that the search for truth often begins. We become more aware of the need for compassion among other misfits, knowing what it feels like to be in their shoes.
Maybe that’s why I follow the misfit named Jesus…His peers didn’t understand him, the religious leaders despised him, and he was rejected by the very ones he created. The world hated him.
I’m not suggesting that we should seek out rejection and bullies to harass us. What I am suggesting is that the misfits, the losers, and the lesser-known have such great potential to bring positive change to the world.
When we become comfortable in our own skin, that is when we realize that we’re not actually alone. There are others who seek to be authentic, who care about seeking truth, and who long to live for more than just themselves.
You’re not alone.
You’re not a loser.
You’re not a misfit.
Others may not understand you right now, but that doesn’t mean that you’re a freak. It may just be that you’re seeing things that others are missing in the hustle to be approved by their peers.