A square peg in a round hole

Did you have this toy when you were little?

When my sisters and I were children, we had a toy where you fitted different wooden shapes into different shaped holes. Did you have that toy too? Most of our friends seemed to have it.

The ‘wrong shaped’ peg

Do you know that metaphor, about feeling like a square peg in a round hole? Can you relate to that?

This metaphor absolutely speaks to me! I’ve spent a lot of my life since I was a very small person, feeling like I didn’t fit into the space I was being squished into. It felt uncomfortable and not right for me.

Why we must ‘fit in’

Many of us were no doubt given messages as children to ‘fit in’ (change the shape of our peg!) and comply and behave and not be a nuisance. You may go along quite happily with that through childhood and into adulthood, or it may make you feel uneasy. One fine day, the realisation may come that you don’t want to do that any more. You want to be yourself, and if that’s a bit different to other people then that’s OK. You’re happy with yourself and accept who you are, and you want other people to see that being different is OK.

Learning to be yourself

When you get to that stage, you actually just want to please yourself, and say yah boo to the ‘rules’ and people who say ‘oh you can’t do that’. You want to wear the sparkly shoes and the wacky coat and the funky hat, and to sing in the street, and dream the impossible dream, and do the things that make your heart sing. As long as you’re not doing anything seriously harmful or illegal, I say why not? Be yourself.

Do what lights you up

Think hard about what lights you up and makes you feel amazing, and give yourself permission to do it. Don’t overanalyse it and worry about what ‘they’ might think. That will soon steal your joy and turn you beige. Life isn’t about worrying what others think of us, in fact some would say that it’s none of our business.

As the poet Mary Oliver says:

‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?’

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