I still struggle a lot with being in social situations. It seems like every time I try to go to a social gathering of any sort I feel like the odd man out. I just don't fit in anywhere. I'm at an age where I should still have some young-ish children at home, but I don't. My only daughter is old enough that I should be at a later stage in life, but I'm not. I want to fit in with the craftsy group, or the women who sew, or the really smart ones, or the others who I just don't seem to have much in common with. But I feel like a puzzle piece that's been put in the wrong box. Somehow my little chunk of blue sky doesn't go with the rest of the puzzle.
Don't get me wrong- I love the women I'm around and I enjoy their company. But just once it would be nice to actually feel like I belong. I hope I'm not coming across as complaining because I'm not. I understand that there are many, many others who feel even more out of place than I do. I know that a lot of my social anxiety comes from my own insecurities and lack of practice. And that's part of why I keep going. I know it's not going to get any better by just staying home in my comfy little shell.
That's why I can really appreciate this article. Here's an excerpt:
"A boy was extended an invitation to visit his uncle who was a lumberjack in the Northwest….[As he arrived] his uncle met him at the depot, and as the two pursued their way to the lumber camp, the boy was impressed by the enormous size of the trees. There was a gigantic tree which he observed standing all alone on the top of a small hill. “Uncle George, look at that tree! It would make a lot of good lumber, wouldn’t it?!”
Uncle George replied, “No, son, that tree will not make good lumber. It might make a lot of lumber but not a lot of good lumber. When a tree grows off by itself, too many branches grow on it. Those branches produce knots when the tree is cut into lumber. The best lumber comes from trees that grow together in groves. The trees also grow taller and straighter when they grow together.”
It is so with people. We become better individuals, more useful timber when we grow together rather than alone.” [Conference Report, April 1965, pp 54-55.]
The author then went on to say: "It is easier sometimes for me to just stay home instead of going to another meeting at Church, or volunteering for another event. Yet, I've never been sorry for choosing to go and do, to participate in, to learn from an activity or program in my ward or stake. Life goes on – with or without us. It’s amazing how the Lord seems to compensate as we do our best to connect and to grow together. He multiplies our abilities and doubles our strength.
...In these heavy pressures of life, there are blessings available through our activity in the ward and stake of which we are a part. As we nourish one another, reaching out to grow in friendship and service, we grow steadily stronger and firmer in the faith. We are like trees in a forest, reaching toward the heavens. As we grow together, we help hold one another up, and grow ever taller in the light of the gospel!"
I love the idea that I'm part of something bigger than myself. I belong to a ward family (the best!!) and even if I don't feel like I fit in, I know that I'm stronger for being part of the forest. I've tried living like a solitary tree and I've learned that I'd rather be uncomfortable than alone. We all need each other. I'm just lucky I have so many wonderfully patient and loving people who help make it a lot more pleasant to show up to events.