Do You Feel Like a Misfit?

May 26, 2016

Do you ever find yourself looking around the waiting room before auditions and feel like you don’t fit in? When assessing the competition you might notice visible things like you’re too tall or too short; too young or too old; too formal or too dressed down; too serious or too humorous; it could be anything really. Going deeper than that, maybe you feel like an outsider in the business altogether when you’re surrounded with people who appear to have their career going strong, are building momentum, and are especially at ease in the networking department–as opposed to feeling like a kangaroo in the Arctic. Feeling like a misfit can be the result of an endless number of reasons, but most of us have felt this way at one time or another; wondering if anyone understands us, if we’ll ever fit in, and perhaps feeling overwhelmed with loneliness.

One-time aspiring Olympian swimmer, and author of the memoir The Chronology of Water, Lidia Yuknavitch identifies with being a misfit. She says, “I love this word because it’s such a literal word. It means a person who missed fitting in. A person who fits badly.” Yuknavitch grew up in an abusive household, failed out of college a number of times, experienced two “epically failed marriages,” as well as two “brief but lovely staycations in jail.” Still her hardest knock came when her daughter died the day she was born. “I hadn’t figured out how to live with that story yet,” Yuknavitch says, and in her grief, she became homeless living under an overpass.

In this Ted Talk, Yuknavitch describes the time she won a literary award for writing a short story; her prize was being flown to New York and being granted the opportunity to meet with three of her favorite authors–her choice. Although these authors encouraged and validated her talent and unique voice, Yuknavitch felt like an imposter, and was essentially rendered speechless at the very moment opportunity came knocking. Her silence served as a barrier to attaining a literary agent and a book deal.

Fortunately, she eventually did become a writer. But now she insists that each misfit indeed does belong in the room:

“There’s a myth in most cultures about following your dreams. It’s called the ‘hero’s journey.’ I prefer another myth to the side of that, or underneath it. It’s called the ‘misfit’s myth. And it goes like this. Even at the moment of your failure, right then you are beautiful.  You don’t know it yet, but you have the ability to reinvent yourself, endlessly. That’s your beauty. You can be a drunk. You can be a survivor of abuse. You can be an ex-con. You can be a homeless person…and still I’m only here to tell you: you are so beautiful and your story deserves to be heard. Because you, you rare and phenomenal misfit–you new species–are the only one in the room who can tell the story the way only you would.”

Which actors have admitted to feeling like a misfit during their school days? Here are a few.

“I’m glad I could do those films, and I was glad to leave school. I couldn’t relate to kids my own age. They are mean and don’t give you any chance.” –Kristen Stewart

“[I] was more of a ‘social llama’ in high school. Like, where does a llama go? It’s not a horse. It’s kind of a camel, but it’s not a goat. It’s just on the farm, and people point and gawk at it because it has funky hair. That’s how I’ve always pictured myself.” –Chris Colfer

“My school days were pretty unhappy. I had the worst high school experience ever. I was a bit of a goth with purple hair and I was also part of the drama group, so my friends and I were all weird theater people and everyone just hated us.” –Christina Hendricks

“I hated high school. I didn’t have any friends because I didn’t fit in.” –Chad Michael Murray

“Being teased for being ugly, having a big nose, being annoying. ‘Your laugh is funny, you’re weird, why do you always sing, why are you so into theater, why do you do your make up like that.'” –Lady Gaga

“When I was younger, I was bullied daily, and it led me to face other struggles. I know what it’s like to feel alone and outcast.” –Brittany Snow

“I’d eat my lunch in the nurses’ office so I didn’t have to sit with the other girls. Apart from my being mixed race, my parents didn’t have money so I never had the cute clothes or the cool back pack.” –Jessica Alba

“I wasn’t a heartthrob at school; I was a geek, I was into musical theater which isn’t perceived as the coolest thing. There were guys who were 6′ 1” with beards and big muscles, and I was a gawky 17 year old, a skinny, awkward kid. I was a late bloomer. Growing up was hell.” –Zac Efron

This list could go on and on. Good thing these actors didn’t allow deeply held insecurities to hinder their progress and share their talent with the world. If you too feel like a misfit, remember Yuknavitch’s words: You are rare, phenomenal, and beautiful.