Warning: Adult language ahead!
I have always felt stuck between worlds.
I’m the black sheep of my family, who was labeled “the quiet one,” and begged to go to boarding school.
The one who never belonged to any of the cliques in high school, but had friends in all of them.
The one who was more comfortable with people older and younger than I was, and loved being a teaching assistant more than hanging out with the other college girls my age.
The one who bought a one-way ticket to Colorado and left her family, friends and all their labels and expectations behind.
But that “in-between-worlds” feeling didn’t stop as an adult.
I felt just as uneasy and out-of-place in my 15 years in corporate America as I did in my next 10+ years as a stay-at-home mom.
In both places, I didn’t fit in, so I felt like I was surrounded by people wearing masks. The masks of the good corporate employee, who didn’t discuss their personal lives because it was too unprofessional. The mask of the suburban mom, who was perpetually filled with joy at the prospect of doing crafts with their children and making dinner for their husbands. (I would rather someone poke hot needles in my eyes than do either of those things.) Never talking about anything more than surface topics like preschools or their workout that morning.
I never felt comfortable in either place.
Always in between.
A few years ago, I decided to step into my spirituality that I had held at bay for too long. My “woo-woo” world, my friends and family called it—at least the ones who knew me well enough for me to share this scary, vulnerable, weird side of me that I kept only partially hidden.
And I wish I could say owning up to that part of my self—which was really my whole self—fixed everything and I suddenly felt at home in the world.
But it actually amplified my in-between-ness even more.
I live in a lovely, small town that I am so grateful to have as the perfect place to raise my children. But it’s somewhat conservative, and my spirituality had me feeling in-between, yet again. There is no one like me here. Not that I can see, at least.
I joke that my soul belongs in Boulder, but I’m not sure I would fit in there, either. I’m too spiritual for my town, and not spiritual enough for Boulder.
It was then that I came across this quote:
“When you are born in a world you don’t fit in, it’s because you were born to help create a new one.” ~ Unknown
Oh, the comfort I have felt, every single time I read this quote.
It makes my eyes juicy every damn time.
That quote helped me understand that the reason I am here is not to find belonging in either of these worlds, but to connect these two worlds.
To help us all realize that we don’t have to identify exclusively with corporate America or being a mom—we can want both and create a way to make that happen for ourselves.
And we don’t have to live in Boulder to be spiritual—we can wear our malas and mindfully make our kids’ lunches for school and meditate in our minivans while waiting in the carpool line. We can look like soccer moms, wear ripped jeans, have our midlife crises and be spiritual as fuck.
This. Was. Liberating.
So I started a Facebook page to help create a sense of belonging. For myself and anyone else who might be feeling like I was.
To help me find my soul tribe. To help us find each other.
I called it Spiritual Awakening in Suburbia. And I started sharing the kinds of things that made my soul happy. Quotes by Elizabeth Gilbert, Brené Brown, Wayne Dyer and Mastin Kipp. Articles that reassured me that I wasn’t being overly sensitive—I was just an empath absorbing people’s energy around me, or feeling the effects of the full moon.
And in my search for articles that made me feel like I belonged, I found a site called elephant journal.
There were articles about finding your calling in life, big love, and Mercury Retrograde. (Fucking Mercury Retrograde.) Articles about whole-foods plant-based eating, chakras, Soul Projects, and self-love.
And then I was called to go deeper.
I had seen the promotions for elephant journal’s Apprenticeship program several times before and had always stopped to read the details. But I never had the courage to apply.
This time though, things were different.
My life had been stagnant for a while and I had been wanting a shake-up. I was looking for something to save me from idle chit-chat on the sidelines at my nine-year-old’s football practice and my 13-year-old’s dance rehearsals. I had been searching for signs from the universe about the exact right next step to take.
Over the summer, I had taken some solo, mini-adventures—albeit not as many as I would have liked—and discovered that I loved spending time connecting with myself.
I started writing again.
And remembering how much I loved Christy Williams, the writer. (She’s way funnier and sassier than I am when I can’t write and re-write what I want to say a gajillion times before I say it.)
So, when I saw the Apprenticeship program being promoted again at the end of the summer, I knew it was time.
I. Got. Fucking. Brave.
Before I could talk myself out of it, I applied.
And immediately felt like throwing up.
Because this shit was real.
I was going to have to write about real stuff.
I was going to have to stop putting on and taking off the mask and get fucking real.
No more light and breezy. It was time for authenticity and vulnerability on a much bigger scale.
Because it’s one thing to write for your own website or Facebook page and know that not too many people will see it. But it’s another thing entirely to write for elephant journal, and know how desperately you want to live up to the standards that they’ve set in your eyes.
But the most surprising thing happened when I joined the elephant journal family.
On the very first call we had together as apprentices—after my heart stopped beating hard with truth and promise and the assuredness of having actually taken the exact right next step—do you know what happened?
My eyes got juicy again.
And for the first time in a long time, I felt like I was home.
Turns out, the tribe that I was looking for? It was actually a herd.
A herd of black sheep.
Just. Like. Me.
And I only found them because I got fucking brave.
“Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic.” ~ Brené Brown
Author: Christy Williams
Editor: Travis May