I will do my best to keep this short. It might meander a bit, but trust me it's all important.
I'm turning 34 at the end of this year and I have to say that a big chunk of those 3 and a bit decades were not easy. I spent a lot of time feeling like I didn't fit in. I was the broken puzzle piece, the extra fitting in the flat pack and the 11th Tim Tam. I still really struggle to make friends. Social situations are difficult for me. They are exhausting.
It took me a really long time to learn what I was really about, why I was feeling certain things and how I could prevent those yucky feelings. You can't control everything, but if there are things within my control that will improve my quality of life, it seems silly not to change them.
Today, I want to tell you about three times when I didn't fit. I'm concentrating on these because they all occurred when a 'chapter' of my life ended and the next one hadn't started yet. I felt really lost during these times. In retrospect, the 'in between' times were so important in shaping me for the future, preparing me for new chapters and helping me become the awesome person I am now.
1. The end of university. I had finally finished and it took me a really long time to get a full time, permanent job. It took 5 years. Of course, I worked part time, doing contracts and relieving other teachers. In fact, 4-5 months after I submitted my final assessment, I was thrown into the classroom as a supply teacher. During that first year after I finished uni, I was really disappointed that I didn't get offered a job. I had never been without a purpose or a reason to get out of bed. I had always been at school and I went straight to university. I spent holidays babysitting, doing housework, planning a wedding and being very busy. Suddenly, life was not going to plan and I had to figure out what I as going to do. I considered lots of things and I worried that I would never be a real teacher. At the end of the first year, I realised that supply teaching was a pretty good gig for the time being and I figured it would eventually lead to a permanent job. I decided to say "yes" to every opportunity and be the best supply and contract teacher I could be. I learned sooo much in those 5 years and I earned enough money to survive.
When I was finally offered a full time, permanent job, I was not only more qualified and experienced, but I appreciated it so much more. I succeeded because of all the things I had learned while in the 'in between' stage of life.
2. The end of my marriage. My husband and I had been married for2 and a half years and we had been 'together' for 8 years before that. I couldn't really remember a time when he wasn't my boyfriend. Suddenly, I was back at my parents house with only a few boxes of my belongings. He was living in the house that we shared. Then, I learned that one of my friends was sleeping with my husband. My world shattered. I had put years of my life and all my energy into my marriage and building a life with my husband. It took a very long time for me to adjust to the idea of being a single lady and it took even longer for me to be happy about it. Now, I love being single!
3. The end of Dad's life. I'm still in the midst of adjusting to this new way of life... so bear with me.
When Dad got sick, my life changed. When, as a family, we decided that I would take time off work and share the caring responsibilities with Mum, my life morphed into something different. I still had some time to myself. My purpose was to make Dad comfortable. While I certainly wasn't perfect, I was good at caring for Dad. Most of my time was spent with Dad or thinking about Dad, or thinking about how I could help Dad. When he died, I was obviously sad for him and of course I grieved him. I also grieved the life I had with him. I realised that my everyday purpose was suddenly gone... again.
The first few months were hard. I didn't want to get out of bed or leave the house. I forced myself to do these things, most of the time. Knowing now, that my time is not filled with "Dad" I am beginning to find other useful things to do with my time. I'm finding a new 'place' to fit.
I worked out that I have a bit of a knack for words! I enjoy making cards. So, I am spending my time, using my talents and the things I enjoy, to encourage others. I am sending cards to people in my church who are unwell, or struggling. I don't send one to everyone, because I don't know everyone. I am simply trying to do something small with what I have, where I am. I am happy with that for now.
The future holds great mystery and right now, I want to appreciate everything I am learning and look forward to using it to make people smile.