This is one of my 'not totally thought out' type of posts. ;) But all these thoughts are bopping in my head, so here I go.
Do you ever get the feeling that you're meant to fit in, but you're not totally sure where? Do you know what it feels like when you go away from somewhere, and when you come back enough has changed that you're not sure where you belong exactly? ... Even if that feeling is kinda absurd overkill? And... you know it?
I went to Grace Adventures Camp this weekend to volunteer in the kitchen and hang out with people. I've worked at Grace Adventures in the past (Summers 2011 and 2012, four months each time) and it was an important blessing in my life as I was growing up. When telling about life changing events in my life, Camp inevitably comes up. There I learned a lot of confidence, job experience, and how to be a better leader. I've been away for over a year, but not much time can ever pass without me thinking fondly of Camp.
Going back was an odd feeling - I know several people on staff, but there were many more unknown people than there were known ones. Some things were the same as they'd always been, and still other things had changed - several of the people I knew, teased and saw every day have moved to other states and are no longer around... I know how to serve and help out, and yet I had to watch again to try and be in sync with the new kitchen team.
Over this weekend I was again reminded of a few attitudes that I have to strive against. One in particular... the "I don't fit in, and I don't know how to try" attitude. I did "fit in" and yet I had to fight the voice inside that kept telling me I didn't. 'Not any more.'
I'm a person who longs to know my place. (Who doesn't?) Seriously, there's a part of me that says I'm not wanted when I enter a new group... when I'm not sure where I connect. I don't want to feel like I'm invading. And that's truly at times what I feel I am - an outside invader, trying to fit where I used to, but no longer have the right connections. I'm on the outside of the inside jokes - I'm the tagger-along in an all ready close group - I'm the random extra person. It's looking in, and knowing where I should fit -where I want to fit - , and exactly what I wish to accomplish, and fighting that little voice in my head that says... This is unfamiliar. You're not certain what you're doing. These people don't want you around. You should stop breaking into the conversation and be quiet and let them be with their friends. You shouldn't invite yourself to go along. You should stick with the people you know, and if they're not around, then go wait and don't bother anyone else.
Annoying little voice. I don't know why I never seem to shake it.
Oh, you probably wouldn't know it looking at me, that it's dancing in my head. You wouldn't know that I feel kinda awkward asking to come hang out with you, when we just met. You wouldn't probably have guessed that there was a time in the last few days when I felt I was talking to much and told myself I wouldn't speak up again until I was addressed (ha, that took like, maybe a minute before I was being asked questions again and chattered to.) . You wouldn't know, that several times right before I get lost in the freedom of teasing and goofiness and sarcasm, I'm wondering if I'm being a pest. Why don't you know?
Because I've learned to disregard it, usually. I've learned to try and outright go against it. I've learned to step out of my comfort zone. I've learned that my feelings are often not rational reflections of reality. I've learned that if I want to be with people, I should let it be known, not expect others to read my mind. I've learned to seize the moment and take joy at being with other believers.
Life is much too short to wait around for opportunities to come to me. I can either wait on the sidelines, or I can jump in feet first. I can either be quiet until I'm comfortable, or I can let me be myself. Yeah, sometimes it's hard. Sometimes I feel awkward. But it's usually so worth it.
This weekend was worth it.
I spent so much time laughing and teasing. I went to the sand dunes and watched the fire works while listening to silly commentary of the other staff. I went along to the drive thru of McDonalds so I could talk to staff on the drive there, and then went on a "Kitchen Raid" back at camp at about midnight when the line for the McDonalds was too long. I went to Country Dairy and had ice cream, got licked by a cow, and got to spend time with some great people. I went to a camp fire out in the woods, sang songs, shared a poem and discussed poetry/writing, talked about books, and got startled when someone jumped out of the dark woods while we were walking back with flashlights. I hung out in the staff lounge, joined conversations, exchanged writing with someone, and left a copy of a poem I wrote on the table for others to read.
I know this weekend was good by especially how much it stung my heart to leave. Given time, I think I would've wanted to keep several of those people as new friends, (I'm not sure how well I'll be able to keep up with them now.) and while time was short, it was a joyful and enjoyable time. I had fun, made connections with people, and walked away feeling blessed.
So to anyone who ever feels like me... Take a chance, strive to make connections and have fun, and... don't be afraid to be silly. ;) You may very well find that you had a much more encouraging time than you anticipated if you simply try.
And to everyone on staff who hung out with me, thank you. Y'all were very welcoming, and I loved getting to know you, and appreciated that you took the time to ask questions and get to know me a bit better. I pray God blesses the rest of your time of ministry.
~Ophelia - Marie