This is me.
A square peg in a board of round holes that we call society.
I can’t say when I first noticed it, I mean, really saw that compared to those around me every day I just didn’t quite seem the same.
I guess I was too young to realise what that really meant.
To be an odd shape or an oddball that could not slide into the space life reserves for the round pegs around us. In a world designed for being curved.
While they smoothly nestled into what was expected on the big board of life and met all those imaginary goals that someone says we should all meet as children. I struggled to understand why all the things we learned side by side just did not seem to suit my flat edges the way the round pegs seemed to get it. Why I didn’t fit the mould, slide into life like they all did.
I didn’t progress like the rest, my growth goals, my milestones, and everything just seemed so hard because of my clunky and unrefined shape. I had to work twice as hard to stay afloat.
When I started to see it, I guess I became very hyper-focused and self-aware of the differences and somehow magnified my own sense of insecurity and lack of ability to ‘fit’ in. Straight edges, neat corners, and very black and white about everything, while they were polished and smooth and flawlessly aesthetic. They just seemed to know how to be.
But not me………
There I was …. I took longer to process, longer to understand if I ever understood it at all and I needed different things to stay calm. I was clumsy and loud, I moved strangely, said inappropriate things, and didn’t get the jokes or the facial expressions.
I tried to be part of the crowd and instead was always the bystander who did not get picked for team games. I was ‘the weird kid’
You see…. These pegs around me all lined up and slid into their spaces very easily and sort of co-existed without any huge effort about it, like somehow nature was on their side. Their shape, their inner workings. The entire universe in which we existed was made to fit them like a glove. It was all so much of an alien thing to me as much as the roundness of their being and try as I might, I had no ability to put myself into the place of a round peg. It hurt my corners to try.
I started to feel even more disconnected as we grew and the difference became wider. My flatter edges really became more prominent and refused to be pushed into the curves of the holes around me as much as they did when I was little, and the hole was roomy. I tried harder, fought to fit into that hole, and would have to force myself so much more than I did when I was a little peg. Always in fear of being found out. The others were beginning to really see my oddity. They were starting to be cruel about it.
High school was the worst, and at the awkward age where fitting in is everything, they all sat snugly in their holes while I wriggled and turned and had to push myself, which hurt my irregular shape. I was forced to cling on inside that space, stop myself from popping out and acting like I wasn’t really a square peg at all. Internally I was caged in a prison of my own making while obsessively watching my every move, mannerism, and reaction… I didn’t want to be different.
Kids who saw my corners would point it out and make fun of me. Show others I was ‘a freak’ and they could be very unkind. I tried so hard to keep it all hidden under a round mask that I fashioned for myself. It was clunky, uncomfortable, and unnatural but it did manage to hide the majority of my squareness.
I adopted round peg traits and mannerisms in a bid to not be noticed, but all the while I could see my flat edges and harsh corners and I knew they were there. I questioned ‘why me’ so many times. I tried to disguise them and smooth them but alas – a square peg I always was, even though I did not want to be.
No one asked me or gave me a choice. Nature just made me this way.
Round pegs communicate with one another in weird ways, they think the same and behave in a socially acceptable manner that I guess is naturally born into round pegs. Life for them seems so much easier when it comes to relating to one another, talking, and learning. They just know what to do, how to act and feel, and how to behave. I guess round pegs get some sort of road map to these things that I somehow missed. Maybe it’s a secret club for afterschool lessons that the cool kids never invited me to.
There I was … square, forced into a space I didn’t fit and faking my roundness in a bid to get by. I was tired. It exhausted my every waking moment and I could only breathe out when home alone.
I didn’t understand it. I couldn’t handle the fact that this was done to me while everyone around me got to be ‘normal’. That title everyone strives to be.
I didn’t see how it could feel better and I felt alone. Sometimes I was physically isolated and would watch other kids from afar. I wanted to be a round peg, feel like a round peg and behave like a round peg. I wanted to succeed in life but they taught me that I couldn’t do that if I didn’t fit the round holes.
Then one day….. I met another square peg. Who knew there were more?
Completely by chance, who at first was hiding it too. They were living my life in a parallel way. They were struggling with my struggles. Their pain was my pain.
I hadn’t known there would be anyone else like me, and the more we talked, the more we became friends, our little oddities started to shine by themselves. Like a flower coming to bloom. They didn’t tease me for the squareness, because they had squareness too. And on them, it was cute to see. It was like a familiar warm hug.
We were not hiding anymore and a wonderful thing happened – we met others, and they too were existing in this world and forcing themselves into the peg board to get by. They too could not understand why nature had made them the wrong shape.
We talked and confided in one another and suddenly it did not feel like we were misfits anymore. We thought the same, we communicated, learned, and understood one another in a way we had watched enviously for many years. We were our own tribe. We were not incapable of all those things, we just did it our own way.
Then something amazing happened progressively.
We attracted and found more like us and society started to see that round was not a hole that fitted all pegs….. there were more. And some of the round pegs, they liked us for being square. they wanted to be our friend.
We learned of the many. Square, hexagonal, oval, star and so many shaped pegs out there that are not round, and we were only just scratching the surface. Society is still adjusting to our existence.
Not all round pegs understand us and why we do not fit into the board beside them, they can still be cruel and prejudiced but it’s changing. And we are seeing boards with all-inclusive shapes where before there were only round. We are learning together to accept the differences.
Society is slowly learning that maybe the peg board should not be uniform and repetitive. That some pegs need something different and it’s not because they are faulty or somehow disfigured pegs… No. We are something else. We were built by nature as something else. We are not failures or unlikely to thrive.
We contribute like everyone else into the fabric of this crazy world in which we all exist. We are worthwhile. We shouldn’t have to hide.
In fact, square pegs have many gifts and our oddity can be a gift in many ways. You will never know the delight of having a square peg in your life if you keep forcing us to hide in round holes. I can bring joy and love to someone’s life much like anyone else can.
I am a square peg and I am proud to be.
I no longer hide what I am and wear my flat edges with confidence.
Yours sincerely an ADHD and ASD Person.
6 thoughts on “Square Peg”
Heartfelt and beautiful allegory, Leeanne. I think I’m one of the hexagonal ones, so I can relate. Thanks for being you, the square one, and for connecting with me, the hexy one, so we can love each other and all the other non-round – and round, sometimes! – ones.
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hahha we are all awesome in our own uniquely shaped way and I wish i had known that back in my childhood
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I’m going for hexagonal too. We “almost” function as a round peg because our corners are less noticeable. So we manage to fit in some of the time. I think my “extra sides” are the reason it took me so long to get a diagnosis of ADHD.
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I love that.
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