I spent New Years Eve in the in/between space.
Somewhere in between throwing dollar bills at an enormous, glittering Queen who wooed us with P!nk and vulgarity and glitter, and curled up at a seminary friend’s apartment, reading aloud Richard Rohr’s Enneagram book and talking about The Holy in the Ordinary. I spent it somewhere in between the profane and the sacred, in the queer world where Queens and monks cross over for just a second and nod politely before going on their way in their strange and solemn garb.
I don’t always like my weirdness. I’m “not enough” for the wild and fabulous drag show, and “too much” for the solemn sacred moments with the monks. But I love them both so much – the rowdy energy of rubber boobs and feather boas, and the careful moments of silence and holiness at the monastery when even the swampy little lake feels charged with the glory of God.
Some of us seem to have more trouble accepting our weirdness. As kids, we’re all weird – unique, bizarre little humans who love the strangest, most beautiful things and are always “too much” – too shy, too loud, too introspective, too pushy, too sensitive. Most of us grow up and hear, again and again, that our weirdness is not acceptable. Be more artistic. Be more serious. Be less noisy. Be more careful. Be less analytical. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me curtly that I was “overthinking it” in high school, I wouldn’t be in debt from seminary today.
You are not enough. You are not good. Be another way. Be another person.
So a lot of us do. We realize somewhere along the way that as we are, we are not enough or we are too much. We start to be more driven, or more silent, or more talkative, or less huggy, or more tough, or less feminine or less masculine or whatever we need to do to squeeze ourselves into tight spaces so that we don’t take up too much space.
And then we are a bunch of grown ups who have never really looked at ourselves and been OK with what we’ve seen. And when we go hunting for a mirror in our toolchest, most of us discover that we don’t have one.
I don’t think, though, that we can make our own mirrors. We can’t re-find our childhood weirdo who was obsessed with bugs or how relationships work or why do bodies have bones or how do cars move – we can’t go hide in the corner alone and rifle through ourselves and come up with an image of ourselves as we really are.
It was people that told us we are too weird – and it will be people that help us find ourselves again.
Because “overthinking it” teenage me, embarrassed about how easily I was drawn into debates and self-conscious about how noisy I was, found my way into the crumbly basement of the English building where the Philosophy students lived, and
somewhere in between hollering and bickering across an oval table about The Nature of Beauty, and fighting to defend my thesis on Dostoevsky to a panel of philosophy professors – somewhere in between the pre-law students with logic as polished as their shoes, and the stoner Nietzsche enthusiasts who repeated “but what does it all MEAN” as if they were the first person to ever wonder – somewhere in between those people, those weird, weird, awkward, eccentric “overthinking” people – I knew who I was.
We see ourselves when we crawl out from our cramped closets and see that in the spacious place outside – we are not alone. We see ourselves when someone looked at us and didn’t just tolerate us but was delighted by us, and said, oh honey –
“You are good. You are enough. You are necessary for the world to thrive. What you have is just the kind of weird that the world needs.”
We see ourselves by letting people see us.
We find ourselves with our people.
And when we’re with our people, we aren’t just “taking “identity for ourselves but giving identity, naming what we see in other people and affirming their weirdness – in relationship with people who have named us, we also look around and name each other.
Find your people who affirm and gently lead you out of the stiffling closets you’ve been jamming yourself into. Be the person who carefully knocks on the door and says “I don’t get why you love this so much, why you think this thing is important, but I know you do think this is important. And I’m glad that someone in the world does.”
We can never be neutral enough to please everyone. But we can be who God created us to be, living out our weirdness in kindness and love: monastic or active, angry or gentle, slow or fast, careful or impulsive. The world needs monks and drag queens.
We are good. We are enough. The world needs us exactly as we are.