Thank you for not judging me.
We were weaving through the back roads and trails of the little town we grew up in.
I have this friend who I’ve known since we were 13, and we walk most Sundays while our kids nap or do quiet time.
We are really different in a lot of ways.
But every Sunday we share snippets of our lives from the past week and listen.
The other day I started talking about school and my ever-intensifying inner nudge to do something out of the ordinary when it comes to my kids’ education.
Part of it are the regulations around the pandemic. Part of it is change in the laws in Maine preventing us from making our own choices around vaccinations. Part of it is that I want to cultivate a sense of wonder in my kids for as long as possible and create an environment where they’re not being judged by a set of rules that someone else who I don’t necessarily agree with wrote that may or may not even be relevant to the lives they’re going to create.
I told her that what makes me the most nervous is that, through our continuing unconventional choices, we’re getting more and more fringey.
(Fringey: hanging out on the edges of society where the chances for loneliness and being judged feel heightened, whether or not it’s true.)
Being fringey brings up all of my stuff.
I caught a lot of flack for bringing veganaise and pickle sandwiches for my school lunches (being raised macrobiotic vegan, I always had the weird lunch).
Other kids gave me sh*t for having parents who were doctors (and one who was a particularly unusual one).
My mother would pause Sex and the City to give a mini-lecture on the patriarchy and the ways in which its messages were not-very-well-hidden amongst the cosmos and stilettos.
As a kid I desperately wanted to fit in.
And yet, here I find myself making my own against-the-grain decisions ensuring that in many ways, we won’t be like the other families, just like when I was growing up.
But this time it’s different.
This time I have my Sunday walking buddy who listens to my wackiness, asks insightful questions, shares wise reflections, laughs, and holds the duality with me:
I can choose one thing. She can choose a different thing. And sometimes we can choose the same things.
And we can both expand the space within, between, and around us so that there’s enough room for all of it.
My friend doesn’t judge me for being different. And I don’t judge her.
Every time I tell her something that I think makes me weird and she makes space for it, a little part of me heals and softens, making even more space for what feels right to come through, even, and especially, if it’s not what everyone else thinks or is doing.
This time I see how what makes us different from a lot of other people actually brings us closer to the ones who have space to hold the beauty of the both/and.
And this time I see how every choice, no matter how big or small, that’s in keeping with the truth I hear loud and clear inside me when I slow down enough to hear it, is a critical step for living my vision for the world right here, right now.
I give thanks for my friend and our Sunday walks.
I give thanks for the potential in all of us to make more space when we encounter something or someone who’s not what we’re used to instead of deciding it’s wrong.I give thanks that there’s more than one way to be and that when we move beyond the idea that there’s a right and a wrong way, we’re far more likely to find our way.
What unconventional choices are you feeling called to make right now? How are you navigating fears around going against the grain? Leave a comment and let’s talk about it!