Friday, July 31, 2015

Life in the Lunchroom

Do you remember your high school cafeteria? Do you remember how each table was reserved for particular cliques? Jocks here, drama club over there, band geeks  I mean members at that one...
Ok...maybe I'm actually thinking the movie Mean Girls, but I still think there is a bit of truth to it. It may not have been quite so segregated and stereotypical in real life, but I do remember the feeling that you had to find your niche with a particular group, or be left eating your sandwich at the little round table by the lunch room monitor's station.

And though I'm a long way from my high school days, I still sometimes feel like the odd one out. I'm a grown up now, and with that comes a lot of new groups and new labels, but in the end, I'm sometimes still a girl tentatively carrying my lunch tray, looking for somewhere to sit...somewhere to fit.
Should I sit with the moms? Maybe, but a bunch of them stay at home with their kids...I couldn't hide that I can't (or don't want to) do that. 
What about the working women? Well...I kind of fit in there, but will they give me side-eye when I have to leave early to make daycare pick up in time? 
I could join that Christian table...but...I'm not sure they'd understand how I work in such a shallow/superficial field. And what if politics comes up? Yikes.
I can't quite find that table that's perfectly suited to me. In my mind, it's a mix of overlapping labels, which look a little like this:

Different people might understand different parts of me. Some people can relate to some things. But that precise area in the center of all the circles is pretty small, and sometimes it feels like a table with seating for one. 
I'm torn between multiple things, none of which feel like a totally accurate descriptor. I'm a little of this, but not like that. I love this, but I also really value that. I do this, but that doesn't mean I don't also believe in that.

I'm a mom of two, with another one on the way. In the corporate world, that makes me a bit of an anomaly. But at church, where three kids is the norm, or maybe even on the low end of the spectrum, my passion (or personal need, even) for pursuing a full-time career, even while juggling the needs of multiple little ones, isn't something everyone identifies with. I love branding and marketing and all things creative, but I know there's so much more to life than selling jeans, undies, jam, or ice cream (though that is pretty fun!). I'm a little bit of a lot of things, but nothing entirely.

But the difference between high school me, and grown-up me (or difference anyway...let's not dwell on some of the other changes...) is that I now realize that the idea of anyone fitting 100% into any one category is impossible. And I realize I'm not alone in feeling caught between different worlds. Your circles might look different- you might be an adoptive mom, or an entrepreneur, or a missionary, or a single woman...or any number of things. But I bet you've felt alone at times, like you're the only one trying to make that exact combination of circles work. 
And if that's true, then I have to think that there are probably more women than I think, who are sharing my teeny tiny sliver of space, and even more who feel a similar pull of multiple identities, even if they're different than my own. Maybe no two people have the exact same combo, but it's good to remember that we're all more than just one thing. Moms, and workers, and dreamers, and reality show fans, and volunteers, and...and...and...
We don't have to be one thing. We don't have to fit at one table. Or maybe we can, because it's bigger and more diverse than we ever thought.

So what are some of the labels you're trying to balance and embrace? And how do you go about finding your metaphorical lunch-mates who share some of your overlaps?

I'm thrilled to be partnering with Lily Jade, makers of a line of bags that works for mom-me (converts to backpack, and has washable/removable lining? yes please!), business professional-me (the pockets! so many pockets!),  fashionista-me (mmmm, leather!), and all the versions and combos in between. {Madeline diaper bag care of Lily Jade. All thoughts (and insecurities) are my own}

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  1. I love, love, love this post!!

    I often say to my husband that I don't feel like I quite "fit in" anywhere... I'm a parent who blogs, but I'm not really a parent blogger; I'd love to have a great home, but I'm not a typical homemaker; I enjoy work but also would have loved to stay home longer with the only child we have, especially as I never planned on stopping at one; and I have huge amounts of faith but don't really belong to any religion... That last one is the place I feel most lost and alone at times!

    But as you say, nobody fits in anywhere 100% of the time and once we accept and embrace that I think it all just becomes a little bit easier!

  2. LOVE this. Also, the bump- ALL THE HEART EYES!