I’ve always felt different, like I was born in the wrong time period, or maybe even on the wrong planet. I just don’t “fit” anywhere or with anyone. You’d likely never realize this if you spent any amount of time with me, but it’s true.
When I was younger, I got good at pretending to fit in. Talking about things I didn’t care about, doing things I didn’t necessarily enjoy, and making myself appear “normal” when I’m so clearly anything but. As I got older, I learned to embrace more of what made me unique and different, and learned how to be more of myself and exist in a space of truth and authenticity alongside everyone else.
Yet, despite all the work I’ve done, there are still moments where the feeling of not belonging anywhere or with anyone is all consuming. It happens randomly, usually when I’m in a group of people, whether friends or family, who are having a good time. There will be a conversation and laughter, and I may even be enjoying myself… until all of a sudden I’m not, because I’m acutely aware of the truth: I don’t fit here.
Sometimes it’s that I don’t really care about the topic at hand.
Sometimes it’s that I don’t really fit with the people around me.
Sometimes it’s that I feel like the oddball of the group.
Mostly, though, it’s that I realize I’m not living a life in full alignment with my truth. Because, if I was, I would be somewhere else, having a different conversation, with a different set of people, and showing up more fully and completely as me.
I’ve done a lot of work over the years to align my life, relationships, and work with my truth, passions and purpose. I’ve made major shifts, had hard conversations, and have pushed myself in ways that stretched me to tears. I’ve aligned, shed, grown, shifted, created, released, healed and cultivated. I’ve done a lot of work.
So when these moments happen, despite the fact that I momentarily stop breathing and the world feels suffocating, isolating, and overwhelmingly foreign… I feel gratitude. Gratitude for the never ending nudges that bring me closer to my truth and my whole self. Nudges that say, hey love, this isn’t right for you. This isn’t where you belong. This isn’t really who you are. Nudges that prompt me to make changes so that, albeit slowly but surely, I start to show up more fully and completely in my life.
What to do when you don’t fit in:
1) Be kind to yourself.
You’re not alone in this feeling, regardless of how intense, frequent, or unique to you it may feel. I remember attending a conference last spring where the speaker asked the audience, “who here feels like they don’t fit in?” Over half the audience raised their hands. You’re not the only one who feels like you don’t belong, there are tons of us. So first and foremost, be kind to yourself. Because even if you’re the one person in the world who really, truly, absolutely has no place, you’re still going to be stuck with you. Love and accept yourself fully, even when it feels like no one else could possibly.
2) Stop trying and, instead, notice what makes you different.
One of the most common mistakes we make when we feel like we don’t belong is to try and fit in. If you feel like you don’t belong, there’s a very good chance you don’t, and this isn’t a bad thing! Pay attention to what specifically triggered that feeling for you. Is it that you don’t care about the things others do? Is it that you’re spending time with people who are your opposite? Is it that you don’t enjoy the activity at hand? Not fitting in doesn’t mean anything’s wrong with you or the people around you, it just means you’re different. Use this as an opportunity to explore what would need to change for you to feel like you fit. This isn’t about changing yourself or forcing yourself to be anything you’re not, it’s about taking an honest look at the situation.
Maybe you need a new set of friends or to spend less time with your family. Maybe you’re not dating the right person. Maybe you’d rather be at a cultural event than out drinking. Whatever it is, just make note of it and create better alignment in your life, work, and relationships going forward.
3) Embrace the truth of who you are.
Here’s a truth I’ve learned that’s changed my world: I don’t fit in and I’m not supposed to. I’m not here to fit in, and that’s okay. I’m here to be my unique and amazing self, and you are too. Whatever makes you different, that’s exactly who you’re here to be, not someone that “fits” with everyone else. You may not be the person who stays out late with friends, instead you may be at home studying something that lights you up. You may not be the person who can bond over sports or celebrity gossip. Instead you may be the person discussing politics and protesting for what you believe in. Embrace it! That’s who you’re here to be and it’s perfect, beautiful, and needed in this world. The sooner you embrace the truth of who you are, the sooner you’ll find where you fit and start feeling more joyful and fulfilled by your life and relationships.
So tell me…
Where are you trying to “fit in” when you should be embracing what makes you unique and different? Where are you softening your edges, doing or talking about things you don’t really enjoy, or shrinking yourself to fly under the radar? Where do you need to change or shift to create more alignment in your life and relationships?