margins.

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I see people talking about margin a lot these days. Leave margin in life so you have room to breathe. Scribble in life’s metaphorical margins. Be mindful of the people in the margins.

Do you remember being in middle school? It was awful for everybody. So awful that burly men look at me with respect, all five-feet-two-inches of me, when they hear I work at a middle school. Knowing that now, it’s easy to see through the students who seem like they are having a good time. I have been here, I think, and I know that you are not having a good time. That you are as sad and lonely and confused as I was. As everyone is, in middle school. I keep a playful tone with students and try to speak respectfully. Because I remember.

I felt marginalized in middle school, relegated to the edge. I started to learn how to speak up for myself, but it was a slow beginning and I still need a lot of practice. My very narrow perspective prevented me from realizing that I was not the only one who was viewing things from the margins. It was a good way to learn about being a grown-up. In the past year, my own margin has been this working mom thing, specifically working with a baby. I could not figure out how to squeeze life into the hour a day I get to myself. I did not know who to talk to about what I was going through. I was tired and sad and lonely. We hunkered down for a year. I couldn’t see myself that clearly, but I saw the people who reached out to me. The margins are clarifying in that way.

Things are better now, in ways I can’t completely define. I have more energy. Everything’s not weighing me down so much. It’s easier for me to look up and see other people. I am trying to use that energy to look out for those who are going through the same things I have been through this year.

All of us are relegated to one margin or another. Nobody can be in the middle of everything, and everyone feels forgotten sometimes. I have a tendency to wallow in that feeling. The past few weeks, I have taken the opportunity to pass on some of the kindnesses that were shown to me in the hopes of making the margins a little less lonely. I could tuck my heart up tight, but it is better to look for the other people in the margins and make my own middle of everything with them.

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