Intercultural Responsiveness
A Blog By Tom Altepeter

Fitting The Mold

Square-Peg-Round-HoleSometimes I wish I was one of those people who fit the mold. I don’t know if it matters too much to me what that mold is, just that I fit it. It’s tough getting accepted in this world when you don’t completely fit with any particular group, and it’s tougher still when you increasingly notice that you aren’t particularly willing to try very hard to do just that. I mean, I am who I am, and that should be good enough … right?

But, here’s the thing: It’s nice and all to say that should be good enough, yet deep down inside, we know it’s not. Sure, some people are extremely accepting, and those people can usually be found, well, looking for a place to fit in. As a general rule, there’s a certain amount of conformity that happens for everyone when it comes to being accepted. Truly, let’s be honest.

Now, I’m not trying to convince people to conform. I’m not attempting to get anyone to change who they are. I’m not encouraging folks to give up a part of self in order to fit in with anyone else. No, I’m merely being honest about a wish I sometimes have – a wish that in my estimation is only more fully granted when we are willing to make at least a partial transformation.

Here’s (part of) me:

I’m a father with two amazing daughters – who have two different mothers due to me having been married and divorced twice now. I’m an educator – a teacher turned elementary school principal turned middle school assistant principal – and one who can’t stand all the nauseatingly boring talk around instruction, curriculum, standards, and the like. I’m a sports fanatic – especially collegiate sports, and specifically football, basketball, and soccer – and one who can’t comprehend anyone’s interest in baseball or hockey. I’m an Evangelical Christian who quite literally takes the life of Jesus to heart – cringing at any words or actions taken in God’s name that diminish or destroy certain individuals or groups of people. And, I’m a political liberal – determined that we are here not to be self-serving, but rather to love and serve one another without complaint or excuse related to giving to and providing for others in need, and promoting basic human rights for all people – with no exception.

I’m actually (slowly) growing more comfortable with my inability to fit the mold.

Yes, it’s true, I sometimes wish I fit the mold. But, as I grow older, I’ve become less concerned about that relatively futile and pointless endeavor. The delight of dichotomy is far too gripping. The desire to be precisely who I am is much too enticing. It has become increasingly apparent that what matters most is not what we do to be accepted, but rather what we do to be accepting.

Yes. That.

One Response to “Fitting The Mold”

  • Kathy Mayer says:

    Ah, the mold. A dull, dull way to live. I respect and treasure your uniqueness!

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