I've never been one of those lucky ones who had a small group of close friends who could read each other's minds. I was usually pretty low on the invitation list for birthday parties and spontaneous shopping trips. I knew people in every clique in high school, and even in college, but wasn't really a member of any of them. I've always been everyone and nowhere at the same time. I've always been able to bounce from one group to another without really missing a beat as long as I had some space in between to myself. Growing up that usually meant I had lots of acquaintances and friendly relationships, but not that soul-friendship I would read about in my ever-present books.
At the time I thought perhaps there was something about me that kept me from really fitting in anywhere. Why didn't God make me able to feel part of a group? I was certainly independent enough to rehearse with the drill team, have lunch in the drama group, talk intelligently with the honor society types, and end the day working with adults on a musical performance. But I still felt like I was missing out on the concept of a core group. Not having sisters, I envied those who did. I filled my days with activities I enjoyed, and I developed a wide variety of interests.
Thirty years later (how can that be?) I am reaping the benefit of "not fitting in." As a teacher, my experiences in so many different things allows me to connect with students better than if I had been relegated to one particular group of people. I can talk science fiction (Dr. Who, anyone?), NASCAR, football, music, theater, literature, religion and theology, philosophy, art, photography, running, and countless other topics with students because I enjoy them all. I like learning from my students whether their interests are astronomy or ballet. Being versatile means I can adapt lessons to individuals and classes and use their interests to make classic literature come to life.
Had I limited myself to one group or another, I doubt I would have the breadth of interests that I do. My greater challenge now is balancing my time between all the things I enjoy while continuing to learn and grow and connect. I like having people in my world with whom I can discuss literature and others with whom I can compare notes on sports. Instead of being everywhere and nowhere, I am just anywhere I choose to be at any given time. And I am grateful that God wired me differently, just as I am.