No one likes being the odd one out. Having a sense of belonging goes a long way. It’ll sway people to buy the clothes they wear, the phones they use, and the cars they drive. The actions people make to “fit in” aren’t always bad– it really depends on what community you’re shooting for.
But the absence of being a part of something? Feeling like you don’t belong can take you to a real dark place.
I’ve had my own moment of identity crisis. I know what it’s like when you don’t quite click your surroundings. Over time, I learned that you don’t find your identity, you make it.
If you’re so desperate to find a group, not only is that not sexy, but you’re setting yourself up to finding the wrong crowd. I think that’s a message that we’re all aware of actually. The only detractor might be what kind of mood we’re in.
Instead of barraging you with positive memes that don’t always stick, what I want to do is provide some reflective questions. These are questions you can ask yourself, even if you’re feeling low.
What exactly does “fitting in” mean?
By analyzing “fitting in” as a metaphor, you realize it’s a terrible one to use. I mean, we wear clothes that “don’t fit” us all the time. You can still wear shoes that don’t fit you perfectly. We often hang on to things we’re “supposed to” outgrow. We enjoy things that don’t always fit the mold. Hell, we love overstuffed burritos!
Do those other people actually fit in?
Whenever a group seems to be really close, you’ve got to stop and think. Are they? Are they really?
Sometimes those close-knit communities aren’t as tight as they seem. It might just be the image of community with no real substance. And if that’s the case, I’ll drop this quip a student once told me: “I’d rather be alone than be with someone who makes me feel alone.”
Is my idea of identity one-note?
Searching for a community to join online has never been easier. At the same time, it’s also oversimplified what’s important in bringing people together. People focus on “what do I like to do”, and it can be misleading.
For instance, maybe you like movies. The movie crowd seems like a fun bunch, until you see how cult-ish they can be with differing opinions. Or maybe you consider yourself a foodie. Is really, really enjoying food going to become your defining trait?
Your job can just be a job. Your hobbies can just be hobbies. Your race can just be your race. None of those things have to be the entirety of your being.
When you reflect on this question, this is one time where it’s better to skip the Batman way of thinking. Watch this scene from Anger Management instead:
And there you have it, three reflective questions to ask yourself whenever you feel like you don’t belong. Now, I understand that words can be a little more powerful when you hear them from someone else. If you’d like for me to tweet you a reminder, just let me know.