The Path of the Happy Misfit

There is no roadmap. If you wake up to being a misfit in this society there are no roadmaps. We are the rejects. No, we are the rejectors.” – Steve Piker

There is a road, a gentle highway . . . if I knew the way, I would take you home.” – the Grateful Dead

No one, starting out in life as a small child, wants to be a misfit. Human beings have a basic need to fit in, to be loved and to be wanted. Failure to thrive, it’s sometimes called. At one point in history, unwanted or misformed babies were put out to die. The misfits.

Few parents, if any, want their children to be misfits. The road is not a “gentle highway” for kids that are misfits. They may be ridiculed, shunned or worse. Parents want their kids to “fit in” with school and with friends. The culture we live in demands that individuals fit in, sometimes doling out grave consequences if they don’t.

stand out in a crowdGiven this obvious repugnance for misfits, why would any one choose to be one?

This is a great question. Many years ago, a very wise woman, for whom I had the greatest respect, said to Mary and me, “What I wish for you both is that you become happy misfits.” Shut up! “What are you talking about?” was what I wanted to say back to her. The truth of it was I already knew I had chosen to be a misfit in this culture. I had rejected the draft protocol because I believed in the fundamental wrongness of the Vietnam War, I was a feminist when most men were not, and I firmly believed that people were more important than money and corporations, which clearly cemented my misfit status. I was becoming a conscious misfit at the time, but not necessarily a happy one. “Happy misfit” seemed like an oxymoron to me, and at the same time, deeply appealing.

To be continued . . .

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

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