Finding Belonging in a New Stage of Life

Out of Place – Elise’s Story

It was the fall of 2012. I was attending Allume, a blogging/writing conference. I was so excited! 

Blogging was still newish, along with online magazines, contributor websites and the like. My friend Kimberly Amici and I had recently started – Where Life, Faith, and Community Intersect. Our site was a contributor site, as we soon learned in a workshop from veteran Ruth Schwenk. (We are no longer running the site, but that’s a different story.) 

Excitement crackled in the air, as the crowded conference reception area filled with happy voices, squeals of delight, exchanges of, “Oh my gosh, you must be…So nice to finally meet in person!”

My heart beat a little faster as I hopped on the elevator to go to my hotel room. Right next to me stood some of the bigger names in the blogging world. I was humbled to be among them, because who the heck was I? Nevertheless, here I was. And on some level, I did belong…didn’t I?

I had a nagging feeling that something was off. 

That I was somehow different. Despite lots of warmth and welcome circulating throughout this first evening of the conference, I felt funny. A little out of place. Like I was a faker. Like I didn’t belong. 

This wasn’t an altogether unfamiliar feeling. I’ve always had a lot of friends and I love people. But when I was about 10 years old, I was in a play called The Me Nobody Knows. I related to that title. A couple of years later I encountered Pippin. These words from the song, Corner of the Sky resonated, “Why do I feel I don’t fit in anywhere I go?” I feel uncomfortable in new settings with new people. Once I find a person or two to connect with, I’m okay. 

An awful lot of people at this conference seemed to know one another. 

I knew Kimberly. And I knew of lots of the other attendees. And they totally knew one another. I was feeling self-conscious. 

One of the first speakers was a woman named Sally Clarkson. She’s an author, speaker, mom to four adult children, who had collaborated on a book with the woman who started Allume, Sarah Mae. Sally’s encouraging and inspiring words uplifted this room full of many young moms. I remember her saying, “At 59 years old, I’m probably the oldest woman in this room.” 

Lightbulb moment! 

That was it. I, like Sally, was in my 50s and by far one of the oldest in the room. My heart skipped a beat, my face flushed. I breathed in deeply. Oh, I was an “older woman” too. One of the oldest in the room. I was no longer a part of the generation that flooded this room. I was in my 50s and most of these gals (along with a few guys) were in their 30s and 40s. Some were even in their 20s, and some brought their nursing babies to the conference. 

I felt very much out of place. 

What was I doing here? What did I have to offer? My own children – in their 20s and 30s at the time – would probably be a more appropriate fit. Was I hanging onto my youth? Tagging along? What could I possibly have to say to these young women? Should I just slink off into the corner and hide my irrelevant self in shame? 

I wasn’t sure what to do. I felt alone on my island of old age. 

But where else would I go? Kimberly was my ride home. I had no choice but to sit in my discomfort. I attended lots of workshops on writing, blogging, reach, audience, SEO, ins and outs of Facebook, Instagram (Insta what?), platform. I was bumping around in the dark for sure. 

Kimberly and I had decided we’d split up and make new connections. So, each meal was shared with another group of strangers…and as I introduced myself, I had a new awareness that I was representing most of the women’s mothers. This was not a good feeling.

 I was reckoning with my age in a way I never had before. 

I relaxed a bit. The weekend was fruitful. Though I hesitated, I ended up meeting a lot of bloggers I was faithfully following. I learned a lot about this relatively new world of writers. Kimberly and I were eager to return home and apply what we had learned to

On one level, I accepted my place among these young’uns. I was older but not necessarily (or definitely not) wiser when it came to the things of the digital world. 

However, cheered on by many younger than I, including my children, I also felt exhilarated about being an older woman daring to venture into a new world. Buoyed by many encouraging words both during and after the conference, I stepped into a new phase, a new stage of my life. 

I was no longer a mom in the thick of raising kids. I wasn’t born into Internet and online – this was a foreign world to me. But I still had something to offer. 

I was that older mom, that woman with a lot more experience in mothering, marriage, friendships. The woman who has learned many lessons that only come from living. I had all that to offer. I still do. And so do you. 

At every age and stage of life, we can offer what we have to those who come after us. That’s a precious gift. 

We can also rest assured that no matter what stage we’re in or age we are, God is never done with us. He always has a plan and He’s always up to something new, in and through us. 

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19, NIV

If you’ve ever felt like you don’t belong, this series is for you! Every Monday, we’ll hear from someone who has also struggled to belong. Be sure to subscribe below to get The Scoop so you never miss a post! As a thank you, you’ll receive access to belonging-themed scripture cards and adult coloring pages in the free for you library!

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Meet Elise Daly Parker

Elise Daly Parker is a Life Coach, Writer, and Editor. She is a wife to Chris, mom to four grown women, and grandmother to two. She delights in helping women live their best lives – a life they truly love that reflects their passion, purpose, and priorities. Elise believes this comes from having a strong sense of identity, self-worth, and the lavish and unqualified love of God. She would love to connect with you on her website, on Instagram, and on Facebook. She invites you to join her coaching Facebook group You’re Not Stuck

*Feature Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

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Sarah K. Butterfield is an author, speaker, and ministry leader who has a heart for empowering women to grow in their faith and be intentional with their time. She and her husband and two boys live in San Diego, where she writes about pursuing a deeper relationship with God in the midst of motherhood.

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