Fitting into Yourself

Have you ever tried to squish yourself into being something that you’re not?
I did. I mean, actually I do. Maybe I am more aware of it than I used to be. But boy do I want to be as accomplished as this person, as geshhikt as that person and as friendly as the next person.
There is nothing like pre-Pesach to induce all my insecure feelings. There are so many people who continue with their regular job schedules straight through until erev Pesach. I can’t. I must take off a few days before Pesach, and even after Purim, I often put in fewer hours than I normally do. So of course I wonder, what is wrong with me? Why am I so incompetent? Why can others do what I just can’t?
As the minhag goes, I was having my annual conversation with my friend expressing my complete incompetence. A little while later she called me back to say, “By the way, I have girls and you have boys. That is a huge difference. Right now, I am cleaning with two girls, while one is watching my baby.” AHHHH. I felt so much better. Because I don’t have that kind of set up. Though my boys help out a bit, it is nothing like what girls do. And so with my set of circumstances, I have to do what works for me. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does.
It might seem random to start talking about new shoes now. But they kind of helped me gain perspective on what I am doing to myself. I needed shoes and spent a lot of time in the store making sure that the shoes I was buying would be comfortable. I finally settled on a pair that I had tried on numerous times. To my frustration, when I actually wore them for the first time, my feet were really hurting! I took the shoes off in the car as I drove, and I couldn’t wait to get home to take them off for good. I couldn’t believe it. I had spent so much time specifically ensuring that my shoes would be comfortable. How could it be? I refused to believe that they really didn’t fit and decided that I would keep squishing my way into them until they would be comfortable. B”H, we got there. Today, I can wear my shoes with ease and comfort.
I insisted on squishing myself into those shoes, sure that at some point they would work for me. But I did have reason to believe it would work because in the store they had felt good.
Sometimes in life, we can be very motivated and determined to make something work, whether it’s a drive to land a certain job, complete a degree or have a completely organized house. It can be a middah. Devotion to doing more chessed. A decision to be more careful with shemiras halashon or to be more patient with cranky kids. We might have to squish and twist ourselves until we are comfortable in our new roles. But like those shoes that eventually fit, we know that with hard work we can reach the goal.
Sometimes, though, we want to squish and twist ourselves into something that we can never be. No matter how much we squeeze and crush ourselves, it won’t work because it’s not who we are meant to be.
I can’t make myself become three inches taller, no matter what. I’ll never be blond, and my sister will never be dark. Like my inability to fit into a too-small pair of shoes, becoming physically different is not going to happen. And just like it can’t happen physically, there are certain other essentials of my makeup that just won’t change.
That’s what I need to accept. In my life, I have to make decisions based on what works for me. Hashem has made me with a certain type of personality and with certain family dynamics. And He wants me to make decisions based on what works for me and my family. It isn’t the right thing for me to make decisions based on what those around me do. I have to fit into my life and my role. The one Hashem has created for me. No amount of squishing and twisting and squeezing and crushing will make me fit into someone else’s role.
And now, as I go through my life learning to accept myself for who I am, I can do it with a comfortable pair of shoes!

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