Growing up, I never quite knew where I fit in. I knew I was different, somehow. In fact, in high school, I hung with a group of kids that were called the “tree group” because we sat under a tree–we all defied conventions somehow. Later in life, I discovered that I simply had needs that were not that different than anyone else’s, I just didn’t realize there were other people like me.
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People who suffer from debilitating anxiety, for example, but still want to live brave lives. I also knew a traditional relationship style would never work for me, but kept trying monogamy on until I discovered that there were other options available. I knew I was a highly sensitive person with strong emotions and empathy, but I didn’t know that was just a normal, if unique, way of moving through the world. And I knew that I lived in a fat body and didn’t feel there was much wrong with that, apart from how society saw me.
What I’ve learned throughout my life is that we’re all much more alike than different, and being othered is often a product of society’s intolerance rather than anything wrong with each of us. That learning has shaped both my own growth and the growth I hope to help clients achieve in my counseling practice.