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On the Fringe

Most of us have new people step into our lives now and again. Learning how they perceive us can give us an opportunity to think about our behaviors, habits and who we are. We can dismiss their observations and continue on our merry way. Or we can get hung up on them and overthink them. Or we can look inside and determine how we truly feel.

A recent addition to my world of people includes the companion of one of my sisters. Though I have only spent time with him every other month or so over the past year, he has met some of my friends. He commented to her that I seem to hang out with a lot of people “on the fringe.”

My first reaction was to feel a bit indignant and protective of the people I feel close to, but in thinking about it, I came to consider it a compliment. My second reaction was amusement, because I considered him to be somewhat of a “fringe” person.

One of Merriam-Webster’s definitions for fringe is on the outer edge of something. I believe that we all spend time on this outer edge. We are taught to conform and to try to fit in. Our culture provides numerous mixed messages and choices at this time in history, making it impossible to “fit in” everywhere.

I guess I realized a long time ago that every individual is special and I’ve always enjoyed that part of getting to make new friends. I can’t disagree that some people are true characters, like something out of a storybook—very memorable and unique. It’s easy to see this in children. But as we get older, it doesn’t seem to be as desirable anymore.

Observations become labels, which can turn into judgments. It’s a fine line. One way to combat this urge to judge is to look at people as the Universe views them—everyone has a purpose. We can learn so much if we open our hearts and minds to others—things we never even thought of before.

Observation #1 – The Upper Peninsula has a small, down-to-earth population. This gives us the chance to get to know people on a much deeper level, thereby exposing some of their qualities, quirks and foibles. This makes for better entertainment than what I see on television.

Observation #2 – The nonprofit community consists of people who choose to help others in a very significant, intentional manner. Along with supportive businesses and volunteers, I find myself surrounded by people who make great efforts to connect, to see the big picture and strive to make that picture shine.

So, for those of you who hang out “on the fringe” with me, I look forward to sharing time on planet earth with you and getting to know you better!