Growing up, I was average. I will not exaggerate to make my life seem wonderful; I was par for school grades, awful at sports, and mediocre at art. I did not have a friend until I was in 6th grade. I often spent my elementary days sitting on the grass, feeling its life between my fingers. When in high school, not much had changed. The people I hung out often referred to ourselves as the leftovers; the people that didn’t fit into the unpopular group or the popular group. In adulthood, I have continued on the same path. I have always felt like I never belonged; none of my closest friends, whom I rarely see, know each other. I live a life of solidarity.
My family is no different. I have never felt like I fit in even with my extended family. For years, I tried hard to be accepted by them, but I was always overpowered by the success stories of my sports star cousins or prom queens. While I do love my extended family, I chose to keep them at arm’s length to build my own life without judgement. And that’s just what I did. I started traveling, and for a brief time, everyone was in awe. It didn’t take long for the awe to turn into frustration. I rarely spoke during family outings, desperately trying to avoid the questions of why I traveled so much. But here’s the real answer: I fit in while traveling. I’ve traveled for all sorts of reasons; I’ve been the girl hopping on a plane because my boyfriend broke up with me, I’ve been the girl traveling 600 miles to see a man only to be dump just weeks later, I’ve been the girl that just wanted to go to someplace new. The reasons are infinite.
Let me make this clear, though, I am not disregarding my extended family. I do love them, but I live a life best in solidarity most of the time. That’s not to say I don’t feel lonely at times; there are days I find myself longing to pick up the phone to call my estranged friends, only to find them to be just memories. This is the life I have chosen to live at this point in time.