All my life I’ve felt like a misfit. Maybe it’s my HSP nature to feel so much. Early childhood in Delhi, I was the quiet shy kid surrounded by boisterous girls with exuberant Punjabi spirits. Moved to Mumbai - initially found myself out of sync coming from a CBSC board education to SSC - feeling like I was miles ahead of my peers and getting a bit of side-eye from said peers who did not appreciate my brilliance. Haha. I was a Hindi speaking kid, thrust into a South Bombay english speaking bunch and in the process, I totally skipped my mother tongue Marathi. My cousins and grandparents in Pune were primarily Marathi speakers - once again I was the odd one out, who took on the languid, bored, snobbish persona as a shield.
In college I felt out of it with the fashionable, smart, socially-not-awkward girls and initially gravitated to two friends who matched my general vibe. But both ended up leaving a year later and once again I was a misfit trying to fit into established friend groups.
The worst of it all was when I graduated and started working at a leading Ad Agency in Mumbai. All my confidence crumbled. No part of me fit in with the bold, cool, confident creatives who were not ashamed to push their (sometimes ridiculous) ideas and showcase their talent. I have probably never questioned my existence more. I was riddled with self-doubt and dragged myself to work with leaden feet for a few years. I found a brief escape when I quit and started my own design studio with a friend (one of the best times in my life when I allowed myself to authentically lean into what I loved) and then once again, a few years later, marriage and a move to the US. This time I was unexpectedly a misfit.
In a surreal twist of fate, I found myself amongst more Marathi speaking folks than I had ever encountered in my entire life in Mumbai! A tight knit Marathi community in the US, friends of my husband, who were overtly or subtly aghast at my SOBO English-speaking-ness so to speak. Add to this, I was the only artist in a community largely made up of engineers and doctors. (what do artists do really?). I was also by now a living ball of anxiety constantly pitting myself in my minds eye against these dynamic, super-wives and super-moms who were forever ‘running errands’ I couldn’t dream of. I was the pushover softie mom to the tiger-moms who always seemed to know the right school, after-school activities and food for their kids.
It’s only in this last decade of my life that I have finally embraced myself - and found my people. I am finally ready to exhale and embrace my idiosyncrasies. I refuse to hike, have morning meetings, say yes when I feel no, explain why I speak English (eyeroll) , explain why I can only eat what I can eat, pretend to know something I don’t, and wear clothes that make me uncomfortable, in order to fit in. I refuse to make excuses for my choices. I am willing to explain them, but I no longer need approval.
So today, I embrace being a misfit - this odd artist girl who doesnt speak her mother tongue, has issues leaving the house sometimes, can’t fly without a companion, carries food in her purse always, and has a therapist who helps her deal with sh*t.
And so we come to self-love. You may have wondered why it was in the title! Well, in the end thats what it took to continue to be a misfit, but feel pretty comfortable about it!
IYKYK but if you don't then:
*Exuberant Punjabi spirit: folks from the north of India have a distinct pep in their step and joy for living that I envy. My Marathi soul is more dry and practical and tend to see the inherent danger in all things. Haha
*CBSC Board: the Central education board that determines the rigor of the school you attend and in the day CBSC was advanced compared to SSC the State Secondary Board.
Hindi: National language of India and primary language in Delhi
Marathi: Language of the state on Maharashtra where I come from
SOBO: acronym for South Bombay as Mumbai was once known. It packs a lot into it. South Bombay is populated by elite, snobbish, resident non-Indians who speak an affected English and have a general feeling of superiority 😜 (or so those not from south Bombay seem to think)