The gosling my husband and I raised, now three years old, is a misfit. She looks the same as the other four adult Canada geese on our cabin’s lake, but since she imprinted on humans, I’m sure the other geese sense she’s different and are wary of her. Occasionally, a goose or gander, protective of their mates and goslings, have tried to drive her away. Gertie never retreats far. Being a social bird, she’s desperate to be accepted; to be part of the gaggle. At three years old, she’s mature enough to mate. Will a gander ever find her appealing, or will they sense there’s something “off” about her? My heart goes out to her, partly because I can identify.
At various times in my life, I’ve felt like a misfit. Foolish mistakes such as turning around in a cemetery and driving over a grave marker (maybe some of you remember that post) or lack of general knowledge—how do I run the latest electronic gadget or even our TV remote?—can make a person feel stupid. Maybe some of you can relate. Have you ever walked into a party and immediately known you were dressed all wrong? Or have you ever taken a class such as yoga or watercolor or wood-working that showed your insufficiencies?
I still remember how it felt to be the last one chosen for a team game in gym class or having to struggle in math or needing to give a speech in front of the whole class. Remember comparing your body shape or height and feeling inadequate? Remember asking a question that others laughed at or doing something that made you feel stupid? Children, I believe, have it even harder than adults since they are still building up their confidence. I worry about my grandchildren and other students comparing themselves to others as they enter school this fall. They’ll surely worry that they don’t have the right clothes or shoes or the “coolest” haircut or book bag. My heart goes out to all the “Gerties” of the world.
I searched for some solutions. It’s helpful if we Gerties (those of us who are nerds or uncool or badly dressed or challenged) can find our flock, hang with those people who “get us” and avoid those who don’t since they probably aren’t worth our time anyway. It’s also helpful if we focus on what we’re good at and what brings us meaning, and stop worrying about the opinions of others. Maybe you’ve heard of Foblo, or Fear Of Being Left Out, a phenomenon brought about through social media where we see people on Facebook, for example, living the dream. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, how about if we look at all we’ve accomplished?
Gertie, for example, attained several extraordinary achievements. Three years ago, when she didn’t migrate and cold weather set in, my husband and I dropped her off at the Marshfield Zoo. It has geese that fly south and many which choose to spend the winter in the open ponds. Gertie, because of her desire, strength and ability to navigate, returned to us. I’m not sure exactly when, but I do know the distance. All the way from Marshfield Zoo to Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin. C lose to 100 miles!
Misfit Gertie should also remember the joy she gave us. She delighted us with her antics when she swam with us, dunking under and popping back up almost in our faces. And she should remember our delight when she flew alongside our speed boat, sometimes taking the lead position thinking she was helping us out by blocking the wind. Such a remarkable moment.
I’m hopeful that Gertie, and all of us who feel like misfits, will find our peeps, those who see our potential, and realize that—yes—there is a place for us in this world.