When it actually sinks in, that you live in a world not made for you, it inevitably leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. And a ton of other feelings.
Confusion. Inadequacy. Always feeling lost and falling short of where you “think” you should be.
You live in a world not made for you if you don’t fulfill that magic quota of skills: working full-time. Having a somewhat active social life. Living independently. And all the other details that come to mind when considering the “American dream.”
I honestly gag even typing that phrase. But, like it or not, our society runs on that underlying modeled lifestyle. Anyone or anything else is “othered” and shamed for not fitting in. If you’re the subject of such shame, whether it’s directly from others or yourself, then it’s always feeling like you’re eking by. Maybe holding on, but not knowing how long it’ll last.
Although I’m struggling myself, in the midst of uncertainty of confusion, if you live in a world not made for you, then this is dedicated to you. To all of us. Because we can do this.
what am I doing?!
I’m sure you’ve guessed by now: when I say you live in a world not made for you, I’m directly referring to myself. And you betcha I am.
This was and continues to be something I grapple with. I’ve always felt out of place and struggled to determine a path to take. Granted, I’m from the rural Midwest, so basically half of my high school graduating class is already married and/or with child(ren). Otherwise, there’s at least a somewhat-clear trajectory of working and living life.
And here’s me. Yes, I feel like I’m in the right direction when it comes to pursuing something spiritual- and activist-related, but now I’m dwelling in the insecurity if that’s even feasible as an income source. Trust me, when I research, I dig deep. Seeing an actual goal to attain that fits my interests (which are already all over the place) seems kind of impossible.
a world not made for neurodiversity
You live in a world not made for you if you’re neurodiverse in any sense of the term. I’m specifically referring to autism, but that includes ADHD or truly any other “disability” that makes the traditional lifestyle difficult or downright impossible. Heck, just feeling like a misfit could be reason enough to feel like you live in a world not made for you.
Learning I was autistic was truly eye-opening in how much that explained my past experiences regarding employment, education, and everything in between. I’m admittedly young, but I’ve never held down a full-time position for more than a few months. When that sinks in, I kind of want to cry. Something so seemingly simple, and yet it’s really difficult and overwhelming.
Some neurodiverse people can work and live just fine, but most of us feel stuck in an endless cycle of defeat. I honestly have so many creative ideas of things I’d love to do or try, but the execution and sustainability of those ideas? Another story. I get really overwhelmed with guilt and triggered by subjects like employment and finances. They’re things I’d rather like to avoid but know dictate major aspects of my life.
four tips for moving forward.
Where can we go from here, if you live in a world not made for you? How can we feel somewhat grounded and secure when so many voices are reminding us of our limitations?
Seriously. I’m talking to myself here, too. Cliche as it is, comparison is the thief of joy. If you know you live in a world not made for you, then it’s automatically harmful to look at what everyone else is doing. Because guess what: that’s not your life. They’re on their own paths. And that by no means devalues your own. The immense gifts you can offer the world may look different, but they still matter.
ask for what you need.
To get by, sometimes we’ll have to suck it up and temporarily be in places we’d rather not be. Regardless of what job you’re working right now, it’s your right and in your best interest to ask for any accommodations if you need them. If they don’t offer them to you, then find somewhere else that does. Or you can always seek outside support, such as therapy, support groups, and other loved ones. You don’t have to manage all of these looming doubts on your own.
Okay, so you live in a world not made for you. That means this is an opportunity to create the world you need, where you will thrive. It’s not going to be the clear-cut, easy path everyone else might be taking. Maybe it doesn’t even sound realistic at first, but why not try? Freelance or find remote positions if that’s what you find comfortable. Start a business if you’re feeling adventurous. I’m all for homesteading and getting off the grid if that tickles your fancy. Chances are that the life you’re seeking isn’t advertised. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
allow yourself to fail.
On that note, trying new things is always good. Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone (to a degree) is good. Both of these scenarios may lead to failure. You screw up, don’t do things right, get misunderstood, and feel like you landed flat on your face. Acknowledge that it sucks. But also remember that this isn’t the finale of your story. That’s the end of the chapter, and you’re still writing all that’s to come. Now you’ve learned more about yourself, what works and what doesn’t, and you can move forward with that greater insight.
keep dreaming, misfit.
I’m a dreamer. That sense of awe and wonder rarely speaks out given the circumstances. I tend to avoid thinking about the big numbers and the future because they scare me so much. You live in a world not made for you: knowing that is the first step. You’re that much closer to discerning how you can make a world fit your unique skills, talents, and ambitions.
There’s value in realism, but keep learning, growing, imagining, trying, discovering. All the things. You have this one precious life to live. Society pushes the mainstream guidebook at us, but those rules aren’t set in stone. It’s about time to start making your own.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie
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