For so much of my life I wanted to fit in. Not be different. Not be weird. Not be other.
Fitting in is belonging, and for most of the history of our species, belonging has been necessary for survival; especially for women.
Throughout history, and still in much of the world, a woman who doesn't fit in is in physical danger. She may be harmed directly, or ostracized and left to fend for herself.
Joan of Arc. Hester Prynne. Rosa Parks. Malala Yousafzai.
When being yourself equals standing out and being noticeably different, then being true and authentic is a scary proposition.
If you hang out in my little corner of the internet, you probably know what I'm talking about. I'm a rabble-rouser for the Misfit Moms.
You don't feel like you have that much in common with the other moms.
You've got a weird family history, you get tired super easily, you like vintage shoes and gory horror flicks, you watch The Bachelorettereligiously, but for serious feminist reasons.
You feel like if those other moms knew the real you, they'd think you were a freak.
Honestly, you don't even identify with the word 'Mom' as an identifying label most of the time.
And being a Misfit Mom can be a headfuc% at home, too. If you're not like the other moms does that mean you're not as good of a mom? If you're lonely and isolated from other moms who are going through similar stuff it's easier to fall into the 'Is something wrong with me?' trap.
But I got good news for you, Misfit Moms. There's a gang of us waiting to jump you in. And by 'jump you in' I mean love the s#*t out of you.
Our gang has a silent Manifesto written in invisible ink. But I want you to know we're here, so I'm going to make it public. Here it is.
MISFIT MOM MANIFESTO
Our difference is our beauty.
Each of us is unique, yet we are all the same in our soft, fragile humanness.
We offer each other the gift of unwavering compassion for the struggles of being human, and in so doing we give that compassion to ourselves as well.
The more we let ourselves be ourselves, the more our children will be inspired to be themselves.
We do not have to conform to the shoulds and oughts and good vs. bads to be whole, worthy human beings.
We are smart and thoughtful and have instincts we can trust, even if what we do looks different from our neighbors.
We are more alive when we are more ourselves.
We will see the beauty in each others' difference and celebrate it - openly, loudly, publicly.
We will ask each other for help, trusting that our struggles will be respected and met with optimism.
We will remember that most women in history and in the world do not have the freedom to be fully themselves.
We will honor the freedom we have to be ourselves and we will be courageous in expressing our full potential, because we can.
We will use our freedom to be uniquely ourselves for good in the world while we have the chance.
We will treat ourselves tenderly, because being brave is hard work, and we need a soft place to land.
Misfit Mom, I love you. I want to see you, in your full wave-your-freak-flag glory. When I see you, I feel more alive and more courageous. Give us all your gift of being you.
You are not alone. We are your gang. We will protect you, honor you and support you with kindness and laughter.
Be all you today.
With love and optimism,
p.s. - If any of you Misfit Moms happen to love graphic design and want to create a beautiful printable of this Manifesto so we can put it on our walls in frames, please email me at email@example.com !! I'll post all the submissions and link to your work. Let's celebrate your creativity and put it to use for a good cause - empowering each other!
I'm Dr. Jessica Michaelson, a psychologist and mom to two wild boys. I help women reclaim their lives and grow into their best selves, while being engaged, present moms.