This phrase, “out of my element,” is bandied about a lot. I use it, in fact. It’s funny though: that phase comes with the presupposition that the person uttering it actually has an element. I’m not in it right now, but – somewhere – there is an element that is mine.
This comes to mind because, actually, at several junctures today I was out of my element. It started with Hubby’s semi-impromptu “men’s breakfast” held in my dining room. They were not conversing about how to cook roast beef, conjugate a past participle, or the upcoming Christmas craft fair. Oh, not that these are my topics of choice—I merely found myself out of my element with topics like 12 gauges, dual exhaust, 8-foot posts, and German shepherds. (Oh, but I just realized; if they could put all four of those into one scenario, I’m all over that!)
Later, a couple of them came back to the house to do some maintenance on Hubby’s shotgun. It was dirty, smelly, messy, time-consuming, and –guns—none of which are up my alley. Again in my dining room, but I was not quite at home.
After that, they changed the oil in one of the cars. Oh yeah, now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! I grabbed a wrench and crawled underneath that vehicle. NOTT!
Then we went to Costco; nothing odd there—except it was the non-grocery half. There were ladders, shelving, tools, and a myriad of high-tech phenomena. It exuded testosterone. Not my element. Definitely not my element.
So, I wonder, where exactly is my element? Do I go there often? If so, how do I know when I’m in it? Inquiring minds want to know!
First off, I had to decide: what is an element (in this context)? According to the Web, it’s “being comfortable with your environment … perform well … not trying to do something you’re not good at.”
Whoa. That totally was not me, today: I reek of discomfort and poor performance at a men’s breakfast, greasing up shotguns, changing the oil, or going to Costco’s non-grocery half.
My personal “element” would be the diametric opposites of these: Dinner with the ladies, discussing how to make peace, just driving the car, and staying in my house rather than shopping. That’s my element: people, reconciliation, ministry, and homemaking. Yup, that’s where I’m most at home. Literally.
But I have to say, in this guy zone today, I was not entirely uncomfortable. I learned some things–at least in that half-hour they were talking about German shepherds…