I finally do.
My paternal grandmother used to use that phrase when she was angry with me. She applied it in multiple ways, none that felt helpful or hopeful. She forcefully spit it at me to put me in my place, or at least what she determined that to be.
For most of my life I haven’t really known what my place was. I did not feel like I fit in from my earliest recollections. I did not fit in with family, education, and religious structures, or even inside of myself. It left me feeling alone, frightened, and disconnected. I also had a vague notion that while I did not fit in, and was left with the subsequent troubling emotions, I also was not meant to fit in. I was not supposed to be a part of my surrounding structures. While it did not make sense, I was quite certain this was true. And so began a quest to find my place.
I of course first looked everywhere around me. I looked outside of me. I looked to other people, organizations, geographic locations. If I didn’t fit in here, I looked there. If I was not to be a part if this group, I would try that one. Wrong school? Transfer. Troubling relationships? Disconnect and find another. Painful interactions? Push away. Run. Flee. Unplug. Try the next.
Grandma, where in the hell IS my place? How can I know my place when I can’t find it?
Today I am sixty-five years and sixty-five days old. Grandma is long gone. While I spent many decades trying to find my place, today, I am finally certain of and content with where my place is.
My place is right here inside of my own heart.
I was never meant to fit in. Of that I am certain. There is a place of truth within me that knows I was born not to fit in but to stand out. I do not mean that in an arrogant way. I simply know that I was born a leader. I have never been a follower. I am an introvert for sure. Yet I have always been put in leadership roles from the playground to the boardroom. I spent far more time on the stage or platform than I did in the audience or congregation. I have never been a devotee. I have never had a guru. My inner being has always been my primary guidance system. I have repeatedly been called to live by Its dictates and directions. That has been my place to live in and from. Very few exceptions.
My internal realm is my place. My Sourced presence. That is my unwavering place of power. Finding that place has been central to my purpose. It is where I abide and from where I serve. I have never been clearer of that. And never more grateful to know it.
I have never had a lot of friends. I never felt the need for that. The place in which I dwell cannot be crowded. I need room to be and to breathe freely. I am clearer than ever that my definition of friend differs from most people around me. I am good with that. I need a lot of space. A lot of alone time. A lot of air. I have never felt lonely when I am alone. You see, in my place I am never alone. I have lots of company. My angels, masters, guides are prolific. They never tell me to “know my place.” They know I am always in it. And they are always available to me in my place.
I currently am leading a spiritual community. It is my primary form of service. I know that for now it is the place I am called to be. I am married, and I have a few friends who are quality individuals that share similar values. My life is simple. Unhurried and not particularly busy. I direct it that way, so that I do not lose connection with my place. I am surrounded by many acquaintances, which for me is the appropriate perspective. I am not too drawn to social media, though I use it as I feel called to uplift others. Those sites are not my place. Facebook “friends” are not really my people.
Two and a half years of much social distancing and working mostly from home has made my place clearer than it has ever been. My priorities are crystal clear. My sense of connection and places of belonging are now beyond question. My values and boundaries are solid and provide me with incredible strength and stability. I have never been less attached to approval and outer accolades. The more centered and authentic I am expressing the less outer feedback I obtain. I have a deep curiosity and appreciation of that fact. I find it fascinating rather than humiliating. The more authentic my posts feel the less “likes” I get. It makes my autonomy increasingly steadfast. While I pray to be helpful to others I am no longer navigated by outer approval.
I am not shaken from my place by what others think of or say about me. It is not that connection is not important. It is. Yet it is my own place of unwavering connection and belonging that is most vital. That is the connection that I most cultivate and attend to. That is where I know I am to live from.
That is what I have come to know as my place.
So, I am preparing to take a vacation and an extended sabbatical from public writing and social media. I am dedicating some time to really being in my place. I am giving added space to my work schedule. I will be resting and renewing by giving increased attention to my inner place of being. I exhale more fully even typing those words. I will not be running from place to place. I will be sitting, staring off and within, breathing deeply and attending vigilantly to my precious inner place.
And I am profoundly grateful to finally know where that is.