Growing up I knew that I was different from the other kids – even before I knew that words like homosexual, butch, queer or transgender existed. I just knew that I didn’t quite… fit.

Now that I’m 34 and not building roads with the boys in the sandbox or trying to impress the girls with how far I can jump out of a swing; I’ve given up on the notion that I’m ever going to find a comfortable place, and I’ve certainly given up on trying to BE straight/lesbian/female/male. I don’t care so much anymore that I don’t look/act/think like my peers.

I don’t jump in on the water cooler banter to discuss the outcome of last night’s game with the men in the office, and I don’t nibble on a salad with the women at lunch. Every time a coworker says “hey girl!” as she passes me or when my boss enters the room and greets us with a cheerful “good morning ladies!” – it makes my skin crawl, and I want to tell them “I’m NOT a girl and I’m NOT a LADY! And even if I WERE, I wouldn’t want to be called ‘girl’ or ‘lady'”… Ugh. but.. I don’t… because honestly, I don’t know what I am, and I don’t know how I could explain any of it to people who couldn’t POSSIBLY get it. You might not think that one little word could make that much difference in my day, but it does. Most people don’t even think about it. Those are phrases said in passing. Said without thought, and for most—received without thought. There’s no need to think about it, because for most, they have a box, and the box FITS… They fit. Sure, sure, maybe it shouldn’t matter – they’re just stupid words, right? But it does matter. It matters because it’s a constant reminder that I don’t fit in their boxes… Ah, but I already know that. They’re the ones who keep trying to squish me in.

Sometimes I think about joining an online dating service… I’ll pick a site. Hem and haw and finally make the decision to put myself out there (Go me!)!! After yet another pep-talk and a series of glowing, positive affirmations I make that BIG step to click that little button and sign-up—and almost immediately I’m faced with yet another reminder of the boxes… dammit… I’m not a woman seeking a woman, but I can’t exactly peruse the men seeking woman section either. No box for me… What a waste of a perfectly good pep-talk.

Don’t misunderstand—this is no pity party. It’s reality. My reality. It’s a reality for a lot of folks who don’t fit. Who, like me, have NEVER fit. Who are PROUD (now) to not fit. Secure in their boxlessness (finally)… Oh, but it is a struggle, too. (Duh.) And the reality of not “fitting” when you have to pee in public is a dangerous one. The reality of not fitting when you want a date for Friday night is an ANNOYING one. The reality of being different in the workplace can be a lonely one… But the REALITY is—we’re kinda used to it. This is not some new revelation that I’m struggling to deal with here. I’ve learned to deal with it… most of it. I’ve HAD to. I squish in here and I stand out there. Every day we’re just doing our best to fit into these spaces that weren’t designed with people like us in mind. We educate as best as we can… and we get frustrated and scared and annoyed and then—somehow, we find peace within those differences—in our skin— and we wake up to do it all over again tomorrow.