Being accepted is one of the most humanly based desires out there, we fight every day to find our tribe and niche that provides that warm delicious feeling of acceptance and home. For me personally, it has been a hell of a quest figuring out where I belong and how I can mold myself into fitting into societies image of normalcy, yet I have tragically learned that the more I attempt and struggle to look “normal”, the more I stand out. Tonight I had an interesting discussion with a Crossfit coach here in Bahrain. I had just walked out of the box and found him sitting on a bench talking to a member, my original plan was to walk over, talk about the WOD and leave, however we quickly began discussing the challenging world of misfitville and how challenging life can be when you don’t quite fit into societies standard definition of what is normal. I have always stood out, I’m a tall blonde with a faux hawk pixie haircut,and can be somewhat obnoxious at times, and I love who I am. Before my self love, I hated who I was, and still struggle with myself sometimes (who doesn’t?). For instance I always used to slouch in order to be shorter since most of my girlfriends in Bahrain are petite, I felt so gigantic and bulky around them, and it wasn’t until I moved to Texas that my posture slowly improved and I came to terms with my height. Now I stand tall and proud, but once and a while that awkward feeling will arise and I have to work extremely hard to douse any flames of shame before it spreads like wild fire.
As the warm summer night wore on, I discovered that the young coach is a full blooded Bahraini, and you would not assume, at least I didn’t, that he considered himself a misfit. At first I laughed at his self-belief, and patronizingly questioned his misfit proclamation. How could he feel different? He fit the Bahraini standard perfectly. Eventually though I discovered that my fellow Crossfitter was also a Misfitter.
So how did I come to this realization? Well, it all began with our discussion about my plans for the future after I finish my master’s in January. I confessed that I did not know if I wanted to come back to Bahrain since I felt like I never truly belonged here, especially after living in Austin for seven years. I told him that sometimes I hated being different and thought that life would be so much easier if I was a full blooded Saudi or American, not one of each. As I continued to dig deeper into a hole of fear and pointless worry, I uncovered a surprising and extremely reassuring treasure, even he, a true Bahraini from a huge and well known family, did not feel like he belonged. At that moment I found comfort, my misgivings were simply born from my own self-doubt, and that just because I am a half Saudi American who was brought up in Bahrain, does not mean that I am alone and that even misfits can come from two parents of the same country of origin.
Although I feel lonely from time to time and wonder if I will ever find the holy grail of acceptance, I am beginning to realize that I do belong to a tribe, the Clan of Misfits. We wonder adrift in a sea of standards, and soon find that our differences are in fact our bonds that forge unbreakable relationships and transcend any cultural barriers that many will never cross.