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Wrong Puzzle Piece

by Steve Jackson 11 months ago in Childhood

A story about how I did not fit in.

Wrong Puzzle Piece
Photo by Kat J on Unsplash

A story about a time I did not fit in.

I remember like it was yesterday. A smooth summer day, with the sun shining radiantly. The wind created a cool comforting breeze to balance the heat. There were cheers, laughter, and smiles all around me. Surrounded by the scenery of love and joy, at least that is what someone would conclude looking in from the outside.

Ever felt so alone in an empty room? What about feeling alone in a crowd of people?

As an introvert growing up, this was very hard for me. Not being one of the “popular” kids, I missed out on what I felt were many opportunities.

I was left out playing different games and activities with many of the other kids, if not all.

There was a specific time, that same sunny summer day outside at summer camp and one of the adolescent camp members that I began to get close to left early for the day due to sickness.

He was 9 going on 10 and I was 8 at the time. I looked up to him as a big brother. I just knew when he came around, we would have fun, enjoy our time at summer camp, and learn new things.

The day he left early, and turned out to be a full week after, I felt alone. Basketball sessions with others, literally turned into me just tossing the ball around and at the basketball hoop by myself. Not even the staff member and teenage camp leaders wanted to play. The sun felt even more intense. I walked around and saw a group playing “house”.

“NO! You cannot play with us.”

One female said, while others started agreeing.


Another set of children, all girls, were sitting around playing and braiding string. I did not find myself fitting in with that group.

I saw a few joking and laughing all racing each other two at a time. One kid ended up beating everybody then made challenges out of it. Still holding the basketball, I then threw it down and asked if I could race also. The rule for the new “race challenge” was set and we took our positions. He began, on your mark, get set, go!

We started running and cut the course and back to the start position as we agreed that would be the finish line. He admitted he had cheated. I said it is fine, let us just race again.

We set up again at the position we started. All the other children began to walk away. We raced, but he gave up and stopped racing in the middle of the race.

“I do not want to race anymore.” The kid said.

I finished the race alone, for myself. I am a firm believer in not giving up. I came back around and said I would just shoot the basketball again and drink some water until my mother came to pick me up.

The basketball was nowhere to be found. I looked left and right, even walked around. The basketball was lost. I sat myself down. Saw staff members in a mini huddle and a couple kids playing in the dirt with sticks. I did not want to be around what I was around, so I got up to look for the basketball. Still, nothing.

It felt as if my mother could not come any sooner. I sat and sat as all the children played and paid me no mind. I thought about life and how difficult it could be without love, support, and friendship. My friend was not there at the moment and for days to pass. That taught me to love myself more and become a better friend to myself.

I was finally approached after sitting consecutively for 30-minutes. A camp staff member told me my mother called and said she is running late and has to attend a meeting. I asked if I could go to the bathroom and cried a little. I wiped the tears to get myself together and ready to return outdoors with everyone else. I like puzzles, but somehow I did not fit in.

I asked if I could have some paper and something to write with. I drew my friend a picture and had a few encouraging and uplifting misspelled words. My mother arrived and I jumped for joy running into her arms while telling her that I could not wait to see her. I noticed once I got in the car I had left the paper I drew and wrote on. It did not matter to me. All that mattered was that I felt loved, supported, and had someone to talk to.

Be there for those in need and that brings you light.

I sure hope someone is encouraged by my story of a time I did not quite fit in.


About the author

Steve Jackson


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