Thoughts on Fitting In (1983)

Title (as given to the record by the creator):  Thoughts on Fitting In
Date(s) of creation:  November 8, 1983
Creator / author / publisher:  Judith Stein
Physical description:  This a black and white scan of Judith’s writing, typed on a typewriter. This writing is 2 pages in length.
Reference #:  JudithStein-ThoughtsonFittingIn
Source: Judith Stein
Links:  [ PDF ]

Thoughts on Fitting In

Judith Stein

I try to remember that the truth is that the world is too small. It is the world which is too full of narrow aisles, narrow chairs, narrow people who never talk loud, whose hands rest quietly in their laps as they speak in demure voices.  I am perfectly alright, the right volume, the right fullness the right spirit. I am simply just enough.

I try to remember that being “too big” is only a state of mind, and that my mind has expanded to the point where small, demure, soft-spoken people are barely visible. My mind is filled with people who are too loud, too crude, too big, too soft, and to me, they are all just right.

I am not “too” anything. After almost 30 years of thinking I am too fat, too loud, too Jewish, too smart, too radical, too judgmental, to… well, too too, I am not “too” anything. When I am at my best I am just enough, just barely enough to go around.

The trick, of course, is hanging on to these feelings in a world built to squish all of us down into thin, WASPy, middle class, restrained, refined human beings. Usually I succeed in remembering that the “they” who run the world are really too small, too narrow, too dry. But sometimes, for a moment here or there which seems like an eternity, I forget. The telescope flips over and I am the one who is too everything again. My attempts to shrink to size are never successful, even through my attempts to tone up my language and tone down my viewpoints sometimes are. All these efforts, successful or not, leave me disoriented, diminished, less-than I was before.

I hate it that the Army now sings “be all that you can be” because their recruiting jingle stole my ethics — to be the most that I can be, most of the time, the best, fullest , strongest dyke I know how to be. And I know that’s not what the army has in mind! I cherish my size, my volume, the strength of my passions, the weight of my opinions, and I want them to increase, to become more, better, bigger, fuller as I age.

Sometimes I forget, just for a moment, that I have never fit in, and that I never will. My beliefs, my size, my lust for women insure that I will remain an outlaw. Sometimes the sameness of my life and that of my neighbors fools me, lulls me, and as I call my cat, or carry up my groceries, I think, “oh I am just a regular grown-up, doing regular grown-up things….” Sometimes I may think this way for minutes, or even hours. But before too long, a hostile remark, a second glance, a measured stare make it clear that even if I forget, they remember. I don’t fit in and I never will.

What makes it confusing though are situations where I appear to fit, or almost do, because I have to fit at least a little, just to get by. What do they see at work, of this fat Jewish man-hating dyke? And with my family, where the Jewishness blooms, what do they see?

I treasure my not fitting in. I hold it close to me. It is my fuel, my energy source. When I remember that I don’t fit in because they are too small, too narrow, too restrained, too appropriate, then I can go and live my fat Jewish dyke life to the utmost.

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