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What have you done to try and fit in?

Fri, Apr 2, 2010

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rsz_070
This movie made me jump up & shout Go Jewish People! Go Jewish People! Go!

I was not going to post today.

Ive decided to post only when the proverbial spirit moves me & thought what better than a holiday to start implementing some blogcation time.

Then I started to wonder: is Good Friday even a big thing?

I love it because Im dragging the Renaissance Man out to play (Im fairly confident he has work to do but also that his office is technically closed. Life is too short to work when the office is technically closed types the woman whose entire domicile is her office & seems always to be working)

So I decided not to seize a blogcation day but toss at you a question that was lobbed frequently at me in Baltimore:

Did you ever struggle with not fitting in and caring about that? You seem so confident. As youve gotten older do you find it’s easier to be Unapologetically Yourself or is it still something you struggle with (MizFit note: my tagline may state FITNESS isnt about fitting in but you need know me for only a few moments to realize that’s my life tagline as well)?

I love this question because it cuts to the heart of why I blog.

It has indeed taken me almost 40 and a HALF (90 shopping days left till 41!) to get to where I am today & if I can save someone else even a year or three—my life will have been a success.

Growing up all I wanted to do was go by unnoticed.

For me, in the community in which I lived, that was NOT being Jewish.

I slathered Sun-In in my dark hair each summer in an attempt to turn blond (results? ORANGE).

I begged my parents to let me join my friends at CCD so I’d not miss out on any girl-bonding time (results? Horrified parents).

I didnt exactly lie but pretty clearly implied I celebrated Christmas & slyly turned OFF the blue & white Hanukkah lites before friends came to pick me up at night during that season (results? Baffled parents).

All I wanted—like most kids in junior high/high school—was not to be different.

And, not surprisingly, the harder I worked at trying to guess what would make me fit in the more unhappy I grew.

The harder I worked at trying to guess what *other people* wanted from me in order to accept me as one of their own the more frustrated I became.

The turning point for me was Halloween when I was fourteen.

It was the morning of October 31st (devils night was embraced wholly in my neighborhood) and Id gone outside to grab the newspaper when I saw it.

Written in soap on the four windows of our garage were the letters: K I K E.

In that moment my entire lifeview shifted.

Ive no clue to this day who wrote them or if they grasped the gravity of what the word meant—but I certainly did.

It was my personal AH HA! moment of realization that try as I might to blend in & guess who the world wanted me to be/would be most accepting of—-the answer to who I was and whom I wanted to be was already inside of me.

(as I sit here typing this I realize that it’s not coming out as life-altering-a-moment as it was. I think it’s like that sometimes. If it isnt your moment the retelling of the tale conveys merely as that: a story)

Yes it took me another seven years or so to completely grow comfortable in my own skin but starting that day, as I worked to scrub the letters from our garage, I stopped searching outside myself.

For acceptance.

For how to dresstalkbehavelook.

For my self-definition.

And, not surprisingly, I was far happier in all aspects of my life.

My relationships improved (from friendships to dating to parental) and I was simply more content as a person.

And Ive not looked back.

Hence my tagline.

In fitness, I think, we all want to get to the same place (healthy, energetic, live-longer etc) but that doesnt mean we all ‘must’ take the same path there.

In life, I choose to believe, we all want to get to the same place (happy, at peace, leave a mark on the world no matter how small) but that doesnt mean we all will take the same path there.

Life isnt about fitting in.  It’s about carving your unique path & creating an existence which allows you to be your best self.

*leaps off soapbox she had zero intention of climbing upon when she started post*

So that’s me.

Jewish. Forty. Tattooed.

MamaWifeDaughterSisterAuntFriend.

VolunteerWriterCrappyRunnerOneTimeBodyBuilderUnapologeticallyMyself.

Finally.

And you?

What have you done in the name of fitting in?

Will you join me in sharing in hopes of saving someone.anyone. the time & struggles its taken you to get where you are today?

Please to hit us all up in the comments.

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95 Responses to “What have you done to try and fit in?”

  1. Mary (A Merry Life) says:

    I lost weight.

    Seriously.

    This time around its for the health and a million other reasons, but the first time? I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be like everyone else. I wanted for once to not be the fat girl in a sea of gorgeous girlfriends. I did it a little bit for me and a lot of it to fit in. That’s probably part of why it didn’t stick.

    That was around the same time I was trying to change EVERYTHING about myself. In high school I wore crazy clothes and had blue colored glassed and a short spiky haircut. In college my roommates and friends were all sorority girls… so naturally I started trying to dress like them, go contacts, grew my hair out, changed as much of my physical appearance as I could to fit in. It was different, and a good thing to experience, but it wasn’t me.

    Me wears pink and blue glasses and can’t match socks to her rainbow wardrobe. ;)

    It’s a struggle though. You always have people you look up to or want to be like and I feel like it’s a fine line between respecting them and allowing that influence to subtly shape you vs changing yourself to be more like them.

    I think where that sturggle happens a lot is in blog land. People copy types/styles of bloggers in order to be more popular instead of just being themselves. You are popular because you are YOU. Is there anyone who blogs like you? No. And that rocks. The rest of us could learn from that. Be you. All the time.

  2. Mary (A Merry Life) says:

    And considering it’s 3 am, please ignore the many typos in that comment. ;)

  3. moonduster (Becky) says:

    When I was a small child, I was completely confident, loving and open, and a complete chatterbox. Somewhere along the way, I lost all of it but the loving bit and the chatterbox bit.

    I became very shy, but no one would have been able to relaize this as I continued to be full of chatter and friendliness to all around me. I wanted to fit in; I probably DID fit in, but I never FELT like I fit in.

    My self-esteem was in the toilet for many, many years. It took having daughters of my own for me to start learning to value the strength I learned that I had, that all females have.

    A moment in my past that made me realize that I had to stop trying to fit in and be myself: When I was about 12. The junior high I went to was across the road from the highschool. We had some special needs kids, with some mental retardation, at our school. They used to wait for their mini bus in the same palce that we waited for the bigger bus.

    One day, an older boy started picking on one of them. Teasing and taunting and bullying him. Most of us stood around, horrified by what he was doing but too nervous or scared to do anything to help.

    Then this tiny girl from the higschool who’d been walking by took on the bully. She told him off for how he was behaving and she really let him have it. He backed off and literally hung his head in shame. She didn’t say anything to the rest of us, but it was still a moment I was ashamed of. I should have said something or tried to stop the bullying myself, and I knew it.

    From that moment on, I vowed never to let my shy feelings or fear of not fitting in (I hated confrontations - still do) keep me from standing up for myself or others and not to let it keep me from standing up for what I believed in.

  4. Erin Elberson says:

    This.
    “In fitness, I think, we all want to get to the same place (healthy, energetic, live-longer etc) but that doesnt mean we all ‘must’ take the same path there.”
    Yes. That is all. :)

  5. Jana says:

    My list would be so long it would eclipse your amazing post.

  6. Bea says:

    What a sad and uplifting post,Miz.

    I have done a lot to fit in back in my younger years and now I look back and wish I had enjoyed them more.

    I can not think of the quote something along the lines of life being wasted on the young?

    Anyway, I wish I could go back in time and relive some of it and just be Bea.

  7. Kat says:

    You so rock.

    I grew up in a very small beach town in Southern California where the girls only had the Malibu (tanned) barbie dolls. Seriously, if you didn’t have the barbie with the tan, you were not cool. I was a foot taller than many of my friends (still am…:-), wore glasses, was fat, awkward and *worst* of all did not tan very well. Believe me, not having a tan in the OC even 30 years ago was the epitomy of not fitting in….

    I understand about wanting to be invisible and wanted that too. We had a series of broken windows in our house when I was in the 7th grade. We never knew who did it… There were other issues around being bullied as well. I have talked about some of them on my blog. I was taught to ignore the bullies. I do not think that was a good message. In my experience, bullies don’t bully those that don’t allow it.

    Thankfully, I moved to San Francisco to finish college at 21 and a whole new world opened up to me. San Francisco is diverse and arty and attracts the weirdos, so I fit in without trying for the first time in my life.

    I have spent the next 22 years exploring lots of things and learning how to be comfortable in my own skin. There has been a shift for me after 40. I think that is common, especially with women. You know more of who you are and give less importance to what other people think of you.

    We are all unique and have our own special gifts. Leaning to accept and embrace myself has been a journey. I learned that I had to love myself before I could bring it into my life. And I scored on this one…:-) The love overfloweth in my life. And I am grateful.

    I have been working on this self help thing for a long time and bottom line for me is that I believe that forgiveness, love and gratitude can transform most things. So what are we waiting for? Might as well be ourselves as completely as possible.

    Waving my freak flag to you. I hope you have a fabulous day with your family. xoxo

  8. Helen says:

    I can really relate to this as well.
    I would imagine we all can? It is exhausting trying to guess what others want us to do or be and then relief when I finally realized that was palpable.

    Thank you for being you.

  9. JewliaGoulia says:

    Miz, what a powerful post. How sad that that happened to you in your childhood.

    While I never experienced any “hate-crime” kind of discrimination, I have realized (since beginning my health/weight-loss journey,) that I have completely lost who I am/was.

    Somewhere between stuffing my feelings into food (and literally eating them,) school, marriage, and life - I have conformed to who people wanted me to be instead of living life for me.

    I am still working on regaining myself and my identity. It may take forever, but I think that journey alone will be worth it.

    :)

    Julia
    http://jewliagoulia.blogspot.com

  10. NeutralMonkey says:

    I didn’t do much to try to fit in; I felt absolutely miserable that I didn’t, but with the glasses, braces, fat, strange homelife, moving every other year, and being a ridiculously shy bookworm, I guess I just felt like there was no point. I did start shaving my legs after being ragged on mercilessly for not doing it in middle school; and I absolutely hated myself for being fat and not being “strong” enough to changed it (oh wait, except at the time I wasn’t actually fat!). Mostly, I just gave up and hoped people would ignore me.

  11. Katie @ Health for the Whole Self says:

    What awesome inspiration for my Friday morning…for any morning, actually! I spent way too long trying to be someone that I thought others wanted me to be, denying myself the entire time. I made a huge life decision that I knew in my gut was wrong, but I made it anyway because it was what others had recommended to me.

    When I realized how wrong my decision had been, it was a wake-up call that this is MY life - no one else’s - so the choices need to be MINE. While I’m definitely still a work in progress, I have learned that I need to be true to myself, regardless of what others may think.

  12. Tia says:

    I almost wish i would have given up as it was for me more painful to try and GUESS as you so well describle above.
    I am still working to be me and at the same time trying to teach my daughters to just be themselves.

  13. Lance says:

    Carla,
    I find this post today to be so completely moving to my soul. Thank you so much for sharing this. And in it, you give everyone who visits here just a little more freedom to truly “be”.

    You are a gift in my life…

  14. MizFit says:

    Im so freakin honored how many of you have shared already and so deeply.

    THANK YOU.

  15. New Mom says:

    I was far more at peace with whom I am before I became a mother.
    Now I find I am trying to fit in with the meanie moms and it is exhausting for me.

    Thank you for this post.

    Any tips for my journey?

  16. Heather says:

    Growing up, I had no real issues with fitting in because… well, I’m from a white middle class family. Technically, I guess I am the person everyone is trying to fit in with…

    Except I still felt weird. I still felt like I wasn’t like everyone else. I went through the last two years of high school dressing in a different style nearly every day (hippie one day, goth the next, sport the day after, preppy…) in an attempt to be undefinable. I’m pretty sure that just got me labeled as weird, but since I was already an “arts kid,” (into choir and theater) everyone thought I was weird already.

    The older I get, the less I care about being likable. The more I just want to be comfortable and happy. I have let go of more and more friends as I get older because I am realizing that some friendships require everything of you and give nothing in return, and I don’t have the time and energy for that anymore.

    Now that my daughter is about to turn one, I am just trying to figure out who I am now. I’m not the woman I was before she was born, but I don’t know yet who I’ve become. @New Mom: I think motherhood does this to all of us. How do you find new friends to fit a new life that you don’t even totally understand yet?

  17. Renée (@lowfatpie) says:

    This is a question that I can not answer so easily. I just can’t put it into few words. The thing is, I’m not totally there yet, if you know what I mean? I know I have always felt “different” - different from the other kids at school (we moved a lot, parents got divorced, we were quite poor, etc) - when I was a young girl I was much smaller (height) than the other kids, I wore thick glasses and got teased a lot. I had issues from my parents being divorced, my little brother was a nightmare, my mother an emotional wreck. I wanted then to just be “normal”.

    I know now that there is no “normal” but I go through phases of thinking that I know who I am and then questioning it again.

    The weight and eating (and drinking) has been a way to console and mask without it being the conscious decision to do so. I don’t want to do that anymore and I’m working on that vehemently :)

    I moved to another country and stayed. There is a certain amount of fitting in I feel I need to do (speak the language, participate in and/or adopt local customs), but I find it much easier to unapologetically be myself HERE than I do in the US. Maybe that’s because I surround myself with others who are in the same position and acceptance of being different comes easier. I don’t know. My mom sure still doesn’t get why I’m still here!

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us Carla!!

  18. Trish @IamSucceeding says:

    Hmm, Trying to fit in? I do not think I even tried.

    I always had a weight problem, lived in a house where my Father was there, then not. Would be open about his affairs and never understood why my mother stayed with him for so long.

    My Mom worked 3 jobs(becasue of aforementioned) and was never home, I threw myself into studies, to make myself better and in the process became completely introverted and a couch potato…

    until High School, where a rebellious streak hit me, I lost weight becoming the smallest I have my entire life. Joined the cheer squad and played soccer becoming unwittingly a part of the “in” crowd and did not like who I became. I found myself now working at being accepted so as to remain in the “in” crowd. I lost me, who I was, or at least thought who I was to becoming someone else, that when I looked in the mirror I did not even recognize.

    My last year in high school I was completely devastated by being “marked” after sticking up for the ones the “in” crowd picked on. The beginning of the massive weight gain…decided I did not care, I was me…got married, got pregnant…hormones were horrid, weight gain continued…

    Life is a journey with many detours and roads to take. Trying to fit in I think is all part of the process testing as to who we are and then learning we have to look within to find us and sometimes we need to dig through layers of experiences to find the true us.

  19. Alyssa says:

    I remember the moment in grade school when I decided that when answering a question when called on in class, I should make my voice go up at the end instead of down, sounding unsure of myself, because if I sounded confident other kids would think I was conceited.
    I only un-learned it in my 20′s, when I was working at a Shakespeare festival and my director, a woman, told me I had nothing to be fearful of. To be great, and think of myself as, in her words, “Fu*&ing brilliant!”
    It took a while, but I started to build my confidence.
    Until I moved to Los Angeles in my late 20′s and lived there for 9 years. Let me tell ya, that place (and the Industry) did a number on me!
    Now we live in San Francisco, and things are much better. I’m also 40-nearly-41, which helps immensely.
    I guess the solution is to turn 40 and move to San Francisco, lol!

  20. Susan says:

    “Growing up all I wanted to do was go by unnoticed”

    Story of my LIFE. It really does get better with age, and in some ways I really enjoy discovering more about myself and self-confidence with each passing day. I must say though, I’m finding my 20s to be way more excruciating than my teen or childhood years. At least back then, it was easy to find a clique of friends. But now I’m stuck between this awkward young-adult, and real-adult stage. Half my friends are married or have babies, while the other half are off gallivanting and partying. It’s really hard to carve out place for yourself when you have no idea where you belong. So I just stopped trying to wear all these hats and instead be unapologetically myself!! That sometimes includes going out dancing, most of the time consists of going to bed at 9pm ;)

  21. Karen says:

    I mean this in a no -suck up sense ;)

    I come to your site and comment and lurk most other places because I fear being attacked or flamed for my views.

    I guess selfcensor would be my answer.

  22. JourneyBeyondSurvival says:

    I stood by and let people to be mean to someone I liked.

    I said I liked a boy-for three years-because my group wanted to know who my crush was. I truly didn’t have one.

    I went to a hundred school dances/stomps even though I hated them.

    I bought clothes I couldn’t afford.

  23. Kim says:

    I am not laughing at JourneyBeyondSurvival’s comment I am just laughing that I skimmed all the way to the bottom (how do you get so many comments??) to say the same thing.

    I will say it anyway.

    I stood idly by when others mocked people only because I was so thankful they were not yet mocking me.

    Today I work tirelessly to help others as a form of penance.

    You rock, MizFit.

    This post is why I read you because it isn’t all ways about exercise here.

    Kim

  24. Joanna Sutter says:

    I’m glad you are unapolgetically yourself. That’s why I love you! I am who I am, too. And while I have my days of self doubt and insecurities…I am who I am. Flaws and all.

  25. Marisa (Loser for Life) says:

    I starved myself. To fit in. To try to get a body that just wasn’t remotely possible. It was a very unhealthy time in my life - mentally as well as physically.

    I’m slowly getting to the point where I am what I am and “what you see is what you get”. I’m mostly that way with my friends, but oddly enough, I’m still working on it with my family. PEOPLE PLEASER tatooed across my forehead :)

    My heart sank when I read what was on your garage door. People no not what they do, but I’m glad in your case it helped you to become the wonderful person you are rather than bring you down.

  26. Karena says:

    What HAVEN’T I done in an effort to fit in?? And yet I never did. So many wasted years trying to be someone I’m not. Ironically, it’s only after I gave up on the idea of fitting in and decided to be *unapologetically myself* that I finally found where I DO fit in!

  27. Jules - Big Girl Bombshell says:

    Carla, you must have been sitting alongside my thoughts this week…Actually you were. A comment on my blog from you the other day REALLY got me thinking about stepping out and trying to learn to be unapologetically Myself. Apologizing for being who I am has been my way of trying to fit in. I am 49 years old and have “struggled” with being what everyone else wanted me to be WHILE trying to hide the real reasons why I was the way I was. The “Secret” has I often refer to it. The Secret of my memories that drive me, The Secret of my own spiritual beliefs, and The Secret of how society judges others WITHOUT trying to understand what they go through.
    I may not comment as often as I should but I read constantly, I admire you and you help me each and every day! You, your readers comments, and your twitters help me continue to learn to stop apologizing for my life…………THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!

  28. Diana says:

    I’ve never really followed the pack just to follow. I always was ok with not doing what others were doing. Hence taking years after a trend stops to like it :) And, not afraid in hs to have nights alone because my friends were stupid for drinking. It wasn’t an easier time for me. I’ve always been a tortured soul. But, it was choices I needed to make, not ones made for me.

    I have done things because it was expected of me. Not many, but going to college right out of hs was probably the dumbest decision I ever made (says the girl getting her PhD! lol). Really. Wasted more time and life than needed.

  29. Diana says:

    I still apologize for being me though…something you’ve helped me to recognize and begin to stop!

  30. Sagan says:

    I repressed my personality.

    Isn’t that awful? But that’s what I did to “fit in”, for years. I did what people expected of me. People always told my parents how impressed they were that I was so quiet and serious and nice to everyone; I never raised my voice in public or spoke my true thoughts- I was always “nice”.

    It’s really only been the last few years that I’ve EXPANDED and allowed my personality to shine through. To not always just smile and nod and agree with people, but to challenge ideas and ask questions and to sometimes be (diplomatically ;) ) blunt.

    Nowadays I’m incredibly comfortable with myself. And if others don’t like that… well, I’m not going to conform to a certain standard to dress the way that I “should” or to take part in activities that other people my age do and that kind of thing. I do what I like to do, and I think that my life is much more full- and that I myself am much more REAL- because of it.

  31. Karen (KCLAnderson) says:

    Wonderful post and responses! I tend to mirror others and I’ve been told that it’s actually a good “tactic” because it helps others feel comfortable around me. I’m learning to see, though, that while in some cases it’s an okay, natural thing to do, it can also backfire and not be a good thing for me.

    Becoming myself has been a 47-year process (so far) and I fully expect it to continue. I embrace the process and am glad for the years when I wasn’t as much me as I am now. It makes me appreciate being me that much more!

  32. Fitarella says:

    Everything. I’ve done everything. From hair color to drugs to lying to sex.

    And now my mission is to do everything possible to love/support/teach/instill self-esteem and confidence in my daughter so she never ever has to try to be anyone else but her beautiful self.

    Thank you for this beautiful post. I’m so sorry that you had experience that disgusting act of discrimination.

    Love you Mizzy xo

  33. Another Fitness Blogger says:

    I would say I am envious of your community but I am happy to be a part of it.

    I have done many many unhealthy things to myself to try and fit in (primarily drugs) and it was only when I stopped and really felt my feelings that I grew to know who I really was.

  34. 'Drea says:

    Great post.

    Can’t really say that I ever tried to fit in. I’ve always been a stubborn, independent type and I figured that if people didn’t want to hang with me, it was their lost. ;)

  35. Miz says:

    there’s the post you need to write for all of us, Drea!

  36. Courtney says:

    When I was a small kid, I was a happy, goofy, creative show-off. Then school happened. I tried to hard to fit in that I lost a lot of that happy, goofy personality that I enjoyed so much. The creative stuff got me through school and college, but I tried so hard to fit in with EVERYONE, that I had no idea who I was supposed to be. I was conforming to what I thought I was supposed to be. I think a lot of kids lose their identity in a sea of kids in school.

    I don’t know where it happened, maybe when I turned 30 and ended a serious relationship where I felt like I had totally lost who I was, I realized that it’s still okay to be that happy, goofy, creative show-off. And now I refuse to put that on a shelf for anyone.

    Thanks for the post. Insightful!

  37. Caz says:

    I’ve done everything that I thought would help me fit in.

    I’m crying as I type this because I know I still do it all and I don’t know how to stop. I am so apologetically myself that myself is lost somewhere and I don’t really know who she is any more.

    On a different note, I had to look up the slur word on the internet because it isn’t used in the UK and I didn’t know what it was about. Isn’t it odd how something can change the life of one of us and mean nothing to another? The power of meaning I suppose.

  38. Brooke says:

    TI’m just now beginning to fully embrace who I am. I think it helps that I’m becoming comfortable in my own skin. It’s a work in progress, there’s still part of me that wants to fit in. But she’s being shed with every pound I lose.

    I will continue to become unapologetically myself. :)

  39. Donna Bush says:

    Like Trish, halfway through my senior year of high school, I decided I didn’t like the negative crowd I’d fallen in with and told them all to shove off. Then quickly realized it was 6 months ’til graduation and stupid me had no friends to hang with. But it was a big awakening. I hung out with whoever I wanted - nerds, jocks, gays - my own little Breakfast Club.

    I was blessed to be raised in a house w/o religion - it made me much more tolerant of others. I went to college in San Francisco - it made me much more tolerant of others. I didn’t feel the need to fit in because there was nothing to fit into. At times it felt like a burden, not having a solid community, but in the end, it was the best blessing because I am not just one thing, one point of view. I am so much more than the sum of my parts, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

    Thanks for sharing this, and I’m so sorry you had to go through that act of hate. That kind of thing sickens me, and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to do that to anyone, especially to someone as sincere, loving, and down to earth as yourself. I know our religious views may differ, but I’d never consider you anything other than a friend.

  40. Angela says:

    I grew up in a small town and was the “poor” kid going to private school on scholarship. I liked school and got good grades w/o trying very hard. I was half a foot taller than anyone else (boys included), gangly as all can be. My clothes were rarely the “right” brand, but every holiday season, I managed to wrangle at least one or two items that I felt made me closer to fitting in. Although I didn’t have a word for it at the time, I was a liberal in a very conservative christian area (think Footloose). But, I kept my questions and thoughts to myself and went to youth group in my Guess sweatshirt and tried to feel like everyone else.
    I did this until college when I realized that it was a good thing to be smart. Being tall meant I could get a spot on the college volleyball team. I could wear whatever the hell I wanted. And, I could live out my own beliefs (or lack thereof).
    But, have to admit, I still have a hard time being different from my family in matters of religion and politics, so there I revert back to my high school self and keep my thoughts to myself to keep the peace.

  41. debby says:

    Miz, Thank you so much for writing this special post on a special day.

    As I read, I was thinking ‘how did I get to have such a sense of ‘unapologetically myself’ at such a young age? And then I got to the part where you saw the word on your garage door. And burst into tears. For the young you. We had words written on our garage door too, and eggs thrown at the front of the house, and other stuff. My dad was the TOUGH junior high principal. And I realized through your writing that that was part of what formed me. My mom also encouraged me to be ‘whatever I wanted to be’ and my dad was my biggest cheerleader, in a quieter way.

    I think that’s why I had better ‘morbidly obese’ years than some. I was determined that my weight would not define me. And it didn’t. But now when I look back at pictures and see how very very heavy I was, I am impressed that I did all that I did.

    Plus, I think that just getting older and seeing more of life helps in the ‘unapologetically myself’ department. Reaching 50 years old was another big turning point. I started saying ‘I’m FIFTY YEARS OLD, in response to various situations, as in, I’m 50 years old and I’m not gonna do something stupid just because someone says ‘that’s the way its always been done.’ It was another big turning point (for the better) in my career as a nurse.

  42. CertifiablyFit says:

    Excellent post!

    Once I gave up on trying to fit in I found that life was much easier than I thought it to be. Now if I could have only figured that out before 30 years of my life had past! LOL

  43. Lori (Finding Radiance) says:

    Haha - SunIn. I forgot about that stuff. It smelled like lemons.

    I feel so bad that you had that experience when you were younger. Funny how something that reflects so much on someone else makes us feel bad inside.

    I never fit in very well. I was too fat, too smart, played in the band, couldn’t afford preppy clothes. I just did not fit and I really wanted to. Any attempt I made to fit in just backfired. I now know that is okay that I don’t fit in.

    I lift weights (although I wish more women would fit in with this).
    I dance at the grocery store, even it if is musak.
    I laugh at my own jokes.
    I found my own path to where I am, bumps and all.

    Have an awesome weekend :D

  44. Elisabeth says:

    Finally, in my 30′s, I feel like I’ve taken myself back. I spent my entire life trying to fit into someone else’s mold of what I should look like, act like, be like.

    What I should eat, wear, read, write, and say.

    How I should treat my friends, enemies, parents, siblings.

    I got tired of all of the effort I was putting forth in order to fit in with something that was not realistic.

    I wore clothes that I didn’t like, and talked in ways that I wouldn’t otherwise talk. I did things that I wouldn’t have otherwise done, and I even had sex prior to the age/time when I knew in my heart that I should.

    My decision to NOT be myself completely changed the course of my life on so many levels.

    Rather than accepting a scholarship to a larger university, I went to a FAR inferior community college because I wanted to fit in with my friends. I was afraid that I would shrivel and die if I were thrown into an environment where I didn’t know anyone. I relied on my friends so heavily that I didn’t think I could survive without them.

    I had a difficult time a few years ago considering all of the the things that “could’ve been” if I had just believed in myself the way I was. Now, I look back and just recognize all of the lessons that I’ve learned.

    It makes me want to ensure that I teach my own children a sense of belonging within themselves and their own family that I never had. I want my children to understand that they are perfectly imperfect, just the way they are. No matter how they look, act, dress, talk, etc. They’ll be perfect just as long as they are themselves.

  45. Quix says:

    I spent about the first 16 years of my life trying to fit in and not doing so well. I always had a great gaggle of friends, but I was never one of the cool kids. Once I hit 16, two things happened - somehow I fell into being one of the girls that was befriended by all the “popular boys”, and I started working at Hot Topic at the mall. I learned that:

    1. I could be whoever I wanted to be with just a costume change, and it could change day by day. Seriously, I was wearing grateful dead shirts and ripped jeans one day, and all black and velvet with lots of iron necklaces the next. Because I identified with both cultures a lot. And at 40% off it was easy to have lots of costumes.

    2. It was much more fun being friends with the cool boys then trying to date them. They were complete and total chauvinist manwhores, but they were a lot of fun to just party and hang out with.

    3. It’s just a lot more fun being a freak than invisible. And if you’re confident and carry it well, you’ll probably end up meeting a lot of cool people and having a lot of cool experiences.

    Since then, I’ve pretty much done what I want, still never really fitting in with any group, but finding a lot of good people at the fringes of all the them.

  46. Shelly says:

    I’m now a 40 something mom of two little boys, and walk to the beat of a different drummer. I used to drink to try and fit in - or maybe feel like I fit in - but that went away some time ago. But still face backlash from unapproving family members over almost every choice we make.

    I loved your “Unapologetically Myself” theme from the first time I saw it. And am wholly working towards embracing it in every situation in my life.

    Thank you for this great post today!

  47. Susie says:

    I’ve always been a people pleaser, so I’ve done lots of things to fit in (and still do) but, one of the major things I’ve done is drink - even though my body does not metabolize alcohol and it makes me feel horrible (I am half Japanese, other people of Asian decent may know what I’m talking about). In high school and college I drank to fit in and be “cool” at parties, to be able to talk about how drunk I was, how hung over I was, to have an excuse for acting crazy, to fit in. Now, I hardly ever drink but still find that I feel the need to make other people feel comfortable with my NOT drinking.

    I am still a people pleaser, but at 39 (40 in a few weeks), I am becoming more and more dedicated to thinking about my own needs first instead of trying to make sure everyone (my husband, kids, parents, siblings, friends) are happy at the expense of my own happiness. It a difficult road, but I’m determined!

  48. Lola says:

    Thank you. This touched me so much. Maybe its because I’m currently struggling with this in some ways? I don’t know…but thank you so much for posting it.

  49. Christieo says:

    Wow Miz, one of your most moving posts EVER (tears!!). Funny how the ones that almost weren’t are some of the best that thankfully were.

    I think your Aha moment was very powerful, even though it didn’t happen to me I can see its power and almost even feel it. Wow.

    My aha moment was about weight at first and then it wasn’t. I’d always compared myself to other people in every way, I’d always envied other people for their confidence, their body type, their social status whatever, their education, pretty much everything. And then somewhere along the way and well into my 30s, I stopped caring. Completely stopped caring and am completely and happily comfortable in my own skin (stretch marks and all), FINALLY. And it took 30 something years. I FINALLY do not want to be anyone else except me.

  50. Carrie says:

    I relate to this in so many ways. My family moved around quite a bit while I was growing up. As a result we were an extremely close family. I remember moving to a small town in north Jersey just as I was starting my teen years. I was 13, 5’8″ and my face had not yet grown into my nose. I had moved there from DE and had a slight southern accent. In short, I had everything going against me as a 13 year old. I had been a very social child up until that point. It didn’t matter what I did to try and fit in, and I did a lot, they just would not accept me. We took a family vacation that summer and when we got home someone had painted “Go back to the country Waltons” on our driveway and our garage door. (Our last name is not Walton!) I realized then that I should be happy that my family ate dinner together and that my parents had not divorced and that I was friends with my brother and sister. We weren’t weird, we were special in that town. I went to school in September and held my head high and stopped trying to be one of them. What did they have that I really wanted?

  51. Shelley B says:

    What a powerful post. Growing up without a specific religion, I was the outsider who wanted to be a part of, yes, CCD and vacation bible school! As it turns out, it was probably a blessing to my cynical nature that I didn’t have to sit through things like that.

    I was very shy, but as a teenager discovered that drinking helped to loosen me up at parties, so that’s what I did to fit in. I also rarely stood up for myself - way to people please, Shelley. That issue has dogged me for years - I’m still working on it, but at least I’m aware that I do it.

    And hey, as for you posting only when you feel like you have something you want to say? Go for it. Pressure will be off, and I bet you will feel the fun of blogging once again.

    Thanks for your support, especially this week. You mean a lot to me, my friend!

  52. Kate says:

    I am so apolitically myself, its sad.

    Growing up I was overweight and clumsy in a family (and community) who valued looks and sports skills over any other virtue. (It was ok to be smart as long as you did well in sports.) So I spent every moment being nice. Any time I wasn’t “nice” it backfired. Then I lost my voice and became a doormat.

    Right now I’m so mad I listened to all those people who projected their issues on to me. I need to take that anger and translate it into being my authentic self now. There isn’t any use in crying over the past, when I can still shape my future!

    Oh and for all you parents-please please please love your kids and let them be themselves. I’m probably preaching to the choir here but you don’t know how one little comment can devastate your children. Even if you don’t agree (within reason) with what your kids want to do, let them do it. It will all work out of the best.

    This stems from growing up and hearing from my mom repeatedly: I thought your taste in tv shows was immature until there was a category about it on Jeopardy. Or You know, I guess it is ok you play video games and since so and so’s kid plays them with her husband and they are in the military. Translation: I never said anything, but deep down I thought all your hobbies were stupid, but guess I was wrong!

    When your mom, who you love and think is always in your corner, secretly thinks only losers have the same hobbies as you, it really hurts ones feelings of self worth and self esteem.

    Umm..well now I’m stepping of my soap box. And I’m going to buy some purple nail polish to wear to work tomorrow.

  53. charlotte says:

    Oh wow - this post gave me chills! I can’t believe someone wrote that on your door. Like you, I had to reconcile my teenage need to fit in with the fact that my religion (LDS or “mormon”) makes me stick out. Nobody has ever scrawled cruel words on my garage door but we have had our house egged several times since we’ve moved here (only house on the street to receive such repeated treatment). For a long time, I cringed and answered “Christian” when people talked about religion but, like you, I realized it was more than a title - being LDS influences everything I do, everything I am. Hiding that is hiding myself. Being ashamed of it, is being ashamed of myself. I love my religion unabashedly and whole heartedly. Now, if - like you - I could only learn to love myself that same way I’d be all set:)

    Thank you for this. Reason #546 why I love you.

  54. Marilyn says:

    Oy vey! I just found you a few weeks ago and I already love you. I love when I meet a fellow-40-something-tattooed-jewish-girl-on-the-go!

    I have never fit in, and that’s been my thing. Probably all as a way to deal with being overweight, I became a little more quirky and a little more tattooed!

    I’m on a journey and having just lost about 75 pounds, I’m now getting more help in clothes stores, people are much nicer in general — but I am still a big weirdo and that’s just fine. I’m gaining the confidence to be myself again! It’s been a long time.

    Thanks so much for your post! I completely get it! All of it!

  55. Laurie says:

    I HEART YOU.
    TOday I am trying to focus on the positive so I can’t visit all I have done in the past (why do I know you will “get” that) just had to say I am sending you love.

  56. Miz says:

    ok I am sneaking to the computer as the cookies bake and the husband is with the child.
    THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR YOUR COMMENTS.

    Quite frankly I wasnt sure anyone would “get” what I was trying to say or make the time to comment on this Good Friday.

    I appreciate all you have shared with me and feel quite honored at how many of you revealed so much.

    I also received so many heartfelt emails today.

    I think we should start an UNAPOLOGETICALLY OURSELVES revolution.

    Or at least BOOT CAMP.

    come on over.

    we can use my backyard.

    xo xo

  57. Kimberley says:

    I am sorry that happened to you and your family.

    Up until my late teens probably way too much, in my twenties and thirties less and less.

    Now that I am in my forties a heck of a lot less.

  58. RunToTheFinish says:

    oh fitting in…much of my youth was spent feeling like an outsider and hating that I just didn’t quite measure up. I am definitely mroe cnfident now and lvoe who i am, but those insecurities still creep in from time to time and I have to really be aware of them to keep them from taking over

  59. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    I can’t even tell you how hard this hit home but I am sure you know.. I am glad I stopped by here cause I have gone thru a lot of “not liking myself” & “wanting to fit in” over all my 52 years… still fighting it. Trying to get where you are!

  60. Holly L. says:

    Miz!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. Soooo awesome. I love your message and I love your story. I have definitely taken something to heart. Thank [email protected]

  61. sian-girlgetstrong says:

    Wow…what a great post!! Being comfortable in your own skin…for some it takes a life time of self-exceptance…each year as I get older I accept myself a bit more..hopefully it will happen sooner rather than later…I think that is the true definition of confindence!

  62. Miz, I read this yesterday on my iphone. I wanted to jump through my phone and give you a high five! Cause you know what, this is the CRUX (in my never humbled opinion) of people’s stress in so many areas of their life. Esp. those who battle with weight, dating, etc.

    But, I want to make others happy.

    As I wrote earlier this week, I had a moment where I realised that I need to live the life that is laid out for me (God’s plan) if your religious..if you’re not…the one in your gut. That finding affirmation outside of yourself ie. scale, points, men, sex, work promotions, #of blog hits…you rob your life of living for yourself.

    I lost 25lbs and sold my soul to an ex, I have not pursued men cause I didn’t want to be seen as pushy, I exhausted myself at work to be seen as a good worker, I have held my tounge, voice my opinion-when I didn’t want to so that I could fit in.

    I HAVE JUDGE PEOPLE.

    Miz, thank you.

  63. Lisa L. says:

    Love this post! Thank you so much for sharing. The impact is NOT lost in the retelling. Unapologectically you. It’s so hard esp. as teens to feel like being ourselves is enough. But who the heck else can we be? A perfect Good Friday post. Hope your weekend is fabulous.

  64. Pubsgal says:

    Wow, Miz. This is an amazing, powerful post. I’m not religious anymore, but Good Friday always seems to be a pensive day for me, and your words fit today in so many ways. This post and everyone’s comments gave me a lot of food for thought.

    I’m sorry that happened to you and your family. It makes me so angry that people do hurtful shit like that. What possible reason does our species have for hurting each other? We always have; it seems like we always will. I am glad that it led you to embracing all of the wonderful things you are, rather than letting it crush your soul. It says a lot about you and your family that you reacted to it that way.

    I wonder if anyone feels like they truly fit in, though? Showing my age here, but when I was in high school, the show “Square Pegs” was on TV. Oh, how I related! My “aha!” moment was overhearing one of the girls I perceived as being popular telling another of her peers how much she related to the show. (And those same girls may have felt surprised that I related to the show as well!) I’ve always had the general feeling of not quite fitting in. I embrace it now, but I didn’t always…I think it’s been a gradual process. (And yes, being over 40 helps.) I think dates from my father’s remarrying; I definitely felt like an outsider with my 3 step-siblings and step-mother, especially since I was an only child, and there was nothing I could possibly do to fit in. (Detente was about as good as it got.) Perhaps that’s where I got the notion of not bothering to try to fit in where I realize it’s going to be futile…I listen for awhile, and either jump in wholeheartedly if there’s a good fit or silently bow out when I realize that I’m not fitting in. If I’m “stuck,” then I tend to lay low, avoid conflict, and wait it out. But generally, I feel pretty comfortable being myself; probably in part because of my small core group of people, with whom there’s a mutual love and support for who we really are. Might also be the San Francisco location, too, as Alyssa mentioned. I wonder if my freak flag would fly quite so proudly in other locales. ;-)

    For the new moms, oh yes, it’s a vulnerable time, because it’s all so new. And it’s hard to keep a sense of oneself when faced with the bottomless pits of need that are children. I think I was lucky that I detached from the whole online scene when I was parenting at home, because what I read now about the “mommy wars” makes me cringe. I tried several local groups, by trial-and-error, and I eventually found some people whom I felt comfortable hanging out with at the park and the like. And if you can’t find your kindred souls in person, keep trying in the online world, because there are bound to be some people with whom you can be yourself comfortably.

    What I worry about more at this point is helping my kids become unapologetically themselves. This could be a subject for a whole ‘nother post. I’d like to think that it’s as simple as leading by example. But one key part of parenting, in my mind, is teaching my kids good behaviors (presumably to help them get along with others and take care of themselves as part of society as they mature) and avoid bad ones (ones that are destructive to themselves and others). Sometimes it seems like, in early childhood, a lot of this is tied into pleasing parents or other authority figures…but then, how to keep them from being “pleasers” at the cost of their selves? I worry about our one kid who is desperate to be liked and to fit in; I worry about our other one becoming one of the mean kids or channeling a strong-willed personality into self-destructive behaviors later. *sigh*

    Oh, as for the bootcamp? I’ll bring a bunch of WWIMD (“What Would I Myself Do?”) bracelets. ;-)

  65. Renee says:

    Damn girl! I am so sorry that you experienced that when you were young. Where I grew up the community was half-Jewish and half Catholic with a few chocolate chips sprinkled in. I suppose growing up I didn’t even realize that I was trying to fit in - I just did everything - sing, played violin, student govt Pres, advisory boards and was accepted by everyone - oh honor student too.

    But I was a minority at the top and was really clueless about my history and culture so I decided to attend an all women’s historically black college. Against the wishes of my advisor and even parents of my friends. Best decision of my life.

    And rather than be a hinderance to my success as some folks alluded to - I have experienced extraordinary success in my lifetime. No regrets.

    Thanks for this post. More folks need to read it.

  66. POD says:

    Gosh golly gee whiz…do I hafta make a list of things I did to fit in? Cuz essentially if I list the things I’ve done in the name of fitting in, it would be a list of mistakes and I’ve gone over that list too many times already.

    It”s hard to fit in with creepy toes. It can’t be done. *sniff*

    What I have started to do to accept that I am not a fitter inner is to define personal success in enduring the challenges that come and seeing them as challenges instead of letting those little disasters (or even the good things) that happen define who I am to anyone, most especially me who sometimes feels like I am only things with labels. I am not.

    Love this post.

  67. 266 says:

    I tend to multi-task when I read posts, but you got my full and undivided attention with your garage window story. Thank you for sharing, Carla. The discrimination and unacceptance that I know still exists in today’s world is so upsetting, but illustrating the type of strength that can be born from such unfortunate circumstances is a big part of the inspiration that will change the world for the better, bit by bit and person by person.

  68. Lara says:

    I am constantly amazed by your ability to bring people together and to generate thoughtful comments with your posts.

    I actually laugh out loud when I see blog postings where all the comments are GREAT POST!!! and that is it.

    I can not remember who said it but you are my Fitness Guidance Counselor (and the mayor. LOL at MrsFatass for saying that at Fitbloggin).

  69. Carly says:

    You’re amazing, you know that?

    What I did wouldn’t fit into this post, or any post, but some of the highlights were:
    Avoiding getting tattooed
    Going to fat camp numerous times
    Putting up with an abusive boyfriend

    Some days, I’m not sure which was the worst.

  70. love2eatinpa says:

    i’m still getting out of the fog i was in from being away with my family for the week, so nothing is jumping out at me to say how i tried to fit in, though i’m sure i could name some if i could get through the fog.

    i do want to say that i, a fellow jew, can understand completely where you are coming from.

    where did you get that awesome shirt!?!?!?! please do share!

  71. Lauren says:

    I find this post so interesting, because I also tried to deny being Jewish when I was a kid. I was so afraid to let anyone know, because I would hear people all the time saying things about Jews, how weird they are, and how they do crazy things like grow out those curly pieces of hair and wear a funny little circle on their heads. And obviously the classic “Jews are cheap”. I was insulted, but mostly I was so afraid of not fitting in or being judged (especially in my early teen years) that I told everyone I didn’t know anything about Jewish people, so I couldn’t comment on their “crazy” way of life. I could have corrected their ignorant thinking, but instead, I decided to play dumb.

    I’m not religious and I don’t practice, but I’m still culturally Jewish. My great grandparents came from Poland and Germany, I had family go through the Holocaust and concentration camps, and my grandparents use Yiddish phrases even though they are Canadian. These days, if anyone dared to make an ignorant comment about Jews (or any other religion for that matter) I would never hide who I am, and would be quick to correct their thoughts (No, Jews aren’t all stingy, they don’t all wear kippahs, and they don’t all have payus…but why judge those who do?)

  72. Pubsgal says:

    Yep, she sure is. And not just a *physical* fitness guidance counselor, either. :-)

  73. Nancy says:

    I heart you.

    From one jewish sistah to another: please write a book.

  74. Missa says:

    You and Jules completely inspire me. With your strength in mind, I wrote a bit about my truth.

    http://losingethel.blogspot.com/2010/04/i-am-not-just-background-noise.html

    Cheers,
    Missa
    LosingEthel

  75. Kat says:

    Growing up I read a lot so I had a fairly large vocabulary. In primary school I’d get made fun of for using big words in conversation so I ‘dumbed down’ my speech to fit in. Now I’m at university and can drop riduculously large words into my assignments and class discussions and be admired instead of riduculed :-) love it. Being a bit different paid off in the end.

  76. BK says:

    This made me cry. It reminded me of so many phases of my own life. When we stumbled upon each other a few years ago I knew you were awesome and this post only reminds me I’m a good judge of character. This is why my unapolgetically myself mug is my mug of choice for the office.

  77. Shannon says:

    This post made my heart sink. For you and anyone else who has experienced anything like it.
    I have spent most of my life trying to fit in. Finally the past 3 or so years I realized it is okay not to fit in at all. I am happier and like you it makes everything just kind of work out in friendships and life. I learned how to be myself through my son.
    Story to share?
    My 16 y.o. son Anthony. He is the perfect example of just being yourself. He lives by his own rules, dresses in his own fashion and will not allow himself to be part of a “group or clique” he sincerely considers everyone his friend and is the first to stand up for what he believes is right.
    Results…
    An amazing confident kid who is friends with everyone he comes across. Since he has been able to talk he takes time to visit with people no matter the age or whether or not he even knows them.
    He has a crazy faux hawk, purple suede shoes, a orange and blue checked flannel shirt and a smile that will melt your heart. No excuses it is just who he is. He has taught me that who you are shines through if you just grab ahold of it and run. Good will triumph and love has no boundries.
    I thought I was the one who was supposed to be teaching him, hmmm.

  78. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    Carla, I came back to respond some more just because I quickly wrote how many feeling this brought back to me of my youth growing up in smaller towns or places where being Jewish was bad. I actually went to CCD with my junior high friends but kicked out for disagreeing. I had lots of friends then but they all would say: you don’t seem Jewish”. Back then I had that title & being heavy too. In elementary school, I made friends with the one black girl in my class as she had trouble during discriminatory times - well, back then, it was open discrimination & actually some of what I see coming back now which is disgusting.

    You amaze me at your ability to be you… I will keep working at it!

  79. FatFighterTV says:

    So sorry you had to experience that crap - makes me mad! Our family had more subtle negative experiences being from the Middle East. I often wonder why kids have to be so mean. My niece is a teenager and going through some of that pain now. I am so glad that it passes.

  80. Denise says:

    I have also experienced some negative crap (being called the “N” word for one thing), kids can be horrible and they learn it from their parents and environment they grow up in.

    I worry about what my daughter is going to experience. I can just do my best in raising her to be a strong woman!

  81. Skyler Meine says:

    The reason I think this blog is so successful is because people are looking for an alternative to destroying their confidence because they aren’t like everyone else.

    best compliment ever. thank you.

    Instead people can feel good about being different or struggling with trying to follow the crowd. Finding the strength to fight their battles through hearing your story and understanding the feeling you had.

    Congratulations on making a difference. Congratulation on knowing who you are and sharing that with the world.

  82. Jason says:

    I liked your shirt, never seen that one before : )

  83. Jason says:

    I really liked your shirt, never seen that one before : )

  84. KK @ Running Through Life says:

    Awesome post Miz. Right on. What a reaffirming post to make me appreciate me and not want to be anything else. Thank you!

  85. Felice says:

    Wow. What a “make me think” post!

    I’ve done a lot to fit in: Wrote crappy essays in 4th grade because I was embarrassed about my good grades, saved my dough to buy a Jordache bag just like the popular girls had in 6th grade, went out for cheerleading in 10th grade, etc., etc., etc.

    Found running and that helped me free my mind and be more myself. So did having a kid.

  86. Geosomin says:

    I would keep trying to rectify who I was with what everyone else tried to be…and a lot of times I jsut didn’t get it. Overweightness aside, I’ve always been a bit different in my likes and opinions….it wasn’t until I reached college when I realised that not much of that mattered. There I could dive into science and whatever else I found to be interesting. I could *discuss* opinions with other people. Sure I wouldn’t be one of the poplular crowd….but when I hung out with them…well I was *bored*.
    I came to realise that people form all groups liked me when I was jut “me”. IF they didn’t like me….well…it just doesn’t matter that much to me anymore. Even with my weight in the normal range I find people are just people…and I am me.
    And I like me :)

  87. Geosomin says:

    Oh - and your shirt rocks… :)

  88. Heather says:

    Wow! This post really spoke to me…. Actually I’ve never fit in a day in my life. Sometimes I prefer living in a city, so I can blend more with other people. I do currently live in the suburbs, and I look like I should fit in, and then I feel like I need to be careful with what I say. I love meeting people I feel more comfortable with: nudists, tatooed or piercinged people, yoga-loving, healthy food eating, chiropractor and acupunturist loving people that will try anything people. I got my nose pierced a few years ago (unfortunately I don’t have it anymore as I had surgery and couldn’t get it back in afterward) and a co-worker told me “You just don’t do those things once you get to a certain age.” I told her I must’ve not hit that age yet, and she is younger than me. In my school days, I was always the person that got along with every clique and didn’t belong to a single one. Often I got the “nerd” label as I was really smart and didn’t care to hide it. I also did have a habit of just doing what I wanted and not cause other people were doing it. Oh well.

  89. Jo says:

    Wow, was that a powerful post. I’m 44, damned near 45, and just now figuring all that out-passing it on to my 14-year-old son.

    Your blog always touches me, but I can assure you I will carry this post with me for a long time.

  90. Lakisha Claud says:

    great advice and sharing,I will buy one this great socks for me .thanks

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