It seems like for the majority of my life, I have had a hard time fitting in.
Maybe “fitting in” is the wrong term.
I have just always felt like there were times I was out of place.
A feeling of just being the odd one out or somewhat slightly different.
It may stem from childhood, being overweight in a sea of skinny kids and always being a little bit different than the other kids in some way.
In addition to my shortcomings and inadequacies, there have always been moments where I have been accused of being too much of something.
Too mouthy. Too independent. Too stubborn. Too loud. Too quiet.
Practically every personality trait you can imagine was reduced to being an annoying characteristic.
Some of these things I couldn’t even control.
I couldn’t stop being independent; it was the only way I knew how to be.
Stubborn was part of my nature; being loud came from having a grandfather who was partially deaf. My normal inside voice was probably two octaves above someone at a sporting event.
Being too quiet was only mentioned in cases where I didn’t like someone or felt even more self-conscious of my environment.
Needless to say, being accused of being too much anything has made me feel like I don’t fit in even more.
“It’s OK to be too much,” Mama told me one day.
“I don’t know about that,” I replied.
“It is,” she said. “You come from a line of women that have been too much. I could be too much where you were concerned. Or when things were unfair at work. Being too much is perfectly fine when you are making sure everyone is being treated fairly or being the voice for those who can’t stand up for themselves.
And Granny, as you are aware, was always too much. She was too strident and too harsh at times, but only when she needed to be.”
Mama was right in both of those regards. She had the juxtaposition of being too nice at times to be too scary when it was necessary. Granny’s personality was best described as strong and formidable because she was too independent.
“I feel like I can’t be myself, though,” I said.
I didn’t. I have felt like I can’t say what I really think sometimes because I will be called too much of a shrew.
I have shrunk myself down to where I want to be invisible, so no one will notice what I do — or do wrong — so I can hide from the constant criticism.
“How does that make you feel?” Mama asked.
“Horrible,” I told her.
“Then why do you do it?” she asked.
Why? Well, there are lots of reasons. I hold my tongue, so I don’t tick someone off. I try to be polite and accommodating, even when I am the one being wronged.
I seek to keep the peace instead of rocking the boat.
“How’s that working for you?” Mama asked.
“Don’t Dr. Phil me,” I tell her.
“I’m not. I just wonder how that’s making you feel.”
Awful. I felt weak and stifled.
Mama agreed. “Well, look back over things. I think you will see, life was better when you stood up for yourself and were too much. God didn’t make you a shy, quiet person. He made you stubborn and persistent because he knew you know how to use those gifts.”
Maybe she was right.
I had felt like my life had been stuck and was it maybe because I was going against my nature and not being myself.
It was, however, a time the “too” was used to amplify another word.
But, maybe it was time to stop living small and safe and to start living too much.
The world doesn’t need us to shrink ourselves or be less than who we are. That’s a disservice to the world and us.
If anything, we need to stop diluting ourselves and start living life full strength and be proud to be called too much.
Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the recently e-published novel, “The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery.”