I’m at a writing event, surrounded by hip, accomplished movers and shakers. Somehow I am here, amongst all these stylish, well-bred folk – collaborating, joking, secretly rubbing my elbows against their’s – because, well, success.
So, here I am, feeling relaxed, talking to the tough-yet-kind, edgy-yet-casual founder. I was just like, “Yeah, that’s right, you know me, Tiffany. Just doing my thang. Just fitting in in that cool way that classy people do” – when suddenly this happened:
Me: I hope you have fun in Mesopotamia!
Founder: I will. It’ll be great. My partner has family there, so.
Me: I’m going to Italy next month. I’ve never been abroad so I’m super excited and nervous.
Founder: Oh (right eyelid ticking ever so slightly, the corner of her mouth pulls down just a hint), I thought you were more cosmopolitan than that.
Me: Comspolitan?! Who even uses that word? Is that even a word?! Of course, of course it’s a word. But, who, what?! [commences to open a can of whooping ass, as they say]
Okay, well. No.
In reality, I chuckled self-consciously, politely corrected her and once again wished her a lovely trip to Mesopotamia.
“One of the largest obstacles on the journey of upward mobility is the subtle, yet insidious feeling that you are an impostor. [Tweet This]
Over and again, I hear stories from Upward Peeps (UP’s) about the sudden grip of paralysis that strikes when the person they present to the world slams painfully against the awkward, gangly misfit that still takes up residence inside.
Like when you’re out with your corporate colleagues and they declare “Just put it on my tab!” with abandon and you’re suddenly torn between throwing your card down and doing the same or holding onto those precious dollars so that you can stick to your commitment to pay off those student loans.
Or, you’re out with all of your socially conscious friends who lament the plight of “those poor young men of color who are targeted by our fucked up criminal justice system,” as they brainstorm about how to help “them,” while never imagining that the “they” being referred to are you and your brothers and your uncles and your dad!
Or you may even find yourself walking down the street, looking all hip in your work-out gear, when you hear someone mumble, “Damn yuppie.” You look around, prepared to spit upon said yuppie, when you realize they are referring to you.
You, who’ve been wearing this very same “hip” workout gear for the past six years. You?! A Yuppie?!
This shit is hard. So hard in fact, that I encounter many UP’s who simply step out of the game. That’s right. They up and leave the fight, hunker down, give up, opting to stick to the situations and people that are comfortable, that don’t challenge them. Less and less do they have it in them to survive that soul-sucking encounter with Veronica who is “so irritated” that all those people just want hand-outs, when she had to work so hard to make it where she is today, I mean after all, her parents cut off her allowance last year. Well, mostly cut it off, I mean, they still pay for the Lexus, but whatevs.
You can leave if you want. Because it is hard.
It is hard to move up in a world without a map, without parents and grandparents and great grandparents who did it first, who can be there to give you the advice that they used, who can hook you up with a network that can teach you about what “stock” is and weigh in intelligently about the essentials of a healthy relationship and for god’s sake what is this thing about artisanal toast?!
But for those of you who want to stick it out and fight, let’s. It is possible. There is a way.
The truth is, even though it feels impossible, there are people who have done it before us. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel, my misfit brethren, you just have to trust that if they can do it, you can do it.
And believe you me, if I can do it, you most certainly can do it.
But you have doubts, I know. I want to hear them and fight them all, like a Misfit Avenger, I’ll karate chop them away one anxiety at a time until there is nothing left inside of you but… well, momentum. Momentum to go forward and carve a path for all the other misfits out there just like you!
The gauntlet has been thrown.
Today’s Mission: Leave a comment (or send me an email) and let me know what keeps you from taking that next step in your journey to AWESOME. (So I can fight you on it.)
Photo Credit: Adriana Herbut
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