I find myself having most of my realisations at the weirdest of times. Recently, I was helping my dad assemble a cabinet. It was one of those times where I thought it would be fun and an activity where two people build something and bond; but oddly enough it was me playing assistant - passing screws and tools and not actually doing any of the actual drudgery that comes attached with the assembling of furniture. My dad and I are more on the creative side of fixing things; where we believe instructions are not a must, just a suggestion. So we obviously had to freeflow it. What would take a normal person an hour took us close to four. The reason for this elaborate construction bit is because in between all the commotion of finding the difference between screwdrivers, I had a lot of time to think and mull over how much we were struggling.
One of the shelves was just not fitting in its slot. And the problem was, everything else was already sitting in place. So we did what you'd think we would do. We shoved and prodded and jammed it as best as we could, and basically ended up making the whole cabinet so misaligned that it collapsed soon after. It took us a minute to collect all the fallen shelves and broken screws and try all over again.
Going back to the drawing board made me realise how much we had ruined that poor shelf (as well as chipped some of the others) in the process. I remember being like that shelf at some point, where fitting in was the most important thing for me. I kept jamming myself in places that did not serve me. Nor where I fit in at all. It wasn't my place or my space.
But the importance of this is that it didn't mean that I wasn't a shelf.
I had a purpose like every other shelf/person. And just because I didn't fit in this one slot didn't mean I couldn’t fit in anywhere. Although at that time, I could only see that empty space rather than the bigger picture. So with the passion to make things work, I had to chip away parts that didn't need any chipping away. I had to be a middle shelf when I was made to be literally any other shelf (full disclosure: we didn't figure out where the shelf went so I guess we'll have to try different things and figure it out in time - much like life).
There are two sides to everything. Including (being) a shelf trying to fit in. It reminds me of Daniel Sloss’s Jigsaw analogy - ‘wherein his dad told him when he was very young that “it’s your partner who completes you and makes your whole” and how that translated into little Daniel’s mind is that if you’re not with someone, you’re incomplete.’
In my experience, a lot of the fitting is now trying to fit someone in your life to make you whole or complete. I relate to both sides. It’s weird that everything isn't black and white. Even I found myself shoving shelves (in me) that did not fit or just made things wonky.
With both these revelations, things just become more complex because.. do I really want to fit in? or do things have to fit in me? The thing about it is that it's always going to be a mix. We are innately born to belong and feel like we matter in the larger scheme of things. But does that mean we have to matter in everything, even if they don't matter to us in anyway? The problem is I find myself swinging to the other side of wanting to fit things in my life that have no place being in it, whether it's what I think is the norm or criticism of other people. The crux of it all was the feeling of discomfort that came throughout the ‘shoving in’ process that was being ignored. Currently, I'm trying to see the greys and enjoy how other colours just end up blending really well with it. There is safety in black and white. But there is also ignored discomfort.
Get comfortable in the grey, because it only makes you appreciate other colours even more.