Year of the Misfit

Many moons ago, I was introduced to the concept of “a word of the year”. Choosing one word or a short phrase to act as the theme for the following 12 months. The benefits of narrowing it down to something simple are the ease of tapping into the feelings that this word conveys as well as wielding it as a homing device. Will this thought, these words, this action promote my intention to experience xyz? It’s really a brilliant strategy for navigating the uncertainty of the outside world.

On New Year’s Day I went for a solo hike to sort out my thoughts and choose my word. I did a letting go ritual involving a piece of bark I’d collected the week before and carried home not knowing why. I broke off pieces of the bark, returning them to the forest from which they came, symbolically releasing each and every outdated belief and coping mechanism, all unwanted and unnecessary burdens, and most importantly: any resentment, justified or not. Everything that I didn’t want to carry into 2021 with me.

During this process, the word “belonging” arose. Not belonging as in fitting in, but an internal belonging. A sense of being at home within myself despite most definitely not fitting in to the norms of society or most of the group settings I’ve explored. (Toko-pa Turner’s Belonging, Remembering Ourselves Home helped me greatly in understanding the difference. It’s a fascinating read!)

That afternoon I hosted a small online gathering to guide my Reiki students through a contemplative meditation to clarify their goals and perhaps choose their own themes for the year to come. I fully expected to share that I was devoting myself to belonging. But during the meditation, as I led us to drop into our hearts and listen, MISFIT popped up loud and clear.

I’ve been doing this work long enough to know that when the heart speaks, it’s easier to take heed immediately. The universe conspires to eventually bring me around to obeying its wishes so I might as well surrender now. I rolled with it without any resistance (much to my surprise and delight!).

As I sat with the word, it began to unravel. Accept. Allow. Embrace. Release. Release? Yes, but not in the sense of letting go. Release as in: let the misfit out. Think Gandalf in all his fierceness shouting, “Release the kraken!”. Like that.

Whoa. This is totally unexpected. I was (and continue to be!) filled with elation at the thought of letting my inner misfit out of her confines full time. The rebel within me is overjoyed to finally have some company and an ally against the harsh inner critic who tries to keep me safe by blending in.

I have no idea how this is going to play out over time, but I’m intrigued. I have my theme, unexpected and unusual as it may be, cemented in my mind and a willingness to follow wherever this map will lead.

For all you fellow misfits, know that you’re not alone! You never have been, but now there’s one more of us out in the open. Maybe our paths will cross. I imagine we’ll be able to recognize one another quite easily. Let’s not fit in together.

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