Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in? That you are different from everyone else? That you belong about as much as a circle in a room of hexagons?
I think we all sometimes feel this way.
Sometimes it seems we really don’t fit in. Maybe we are the odd woman out. The only homeschooling mom in a room full of business women. The only redhead in a room of blondes. The only twenty something in a room of fifty and overs. The solitary man among a bus load of women. The one Republican among Democrats. The apartment dweller surrounded by home owners. The lone Methodist amidst Catholics. The one dog visiting the cat museum. The only person breathing at the mortuary.
Well, let’s hope you are not relating to the last category, or nightmares may be settling in faster than a flock of geese descending on a lake.
Anyway, the point is that sometimes we experience occasions when we don’t feel a part of the crowd. Times where we feel we don’t fit in. Instances when we are counting the minutes to departure, and hopefully normalcy.
We all experience this sometimes. And it is normal.
We feel like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs!
Feeling like You Don’t Belong?
Sometimes it may feel like years go by and you never fit in. You never connect with others who are quirky and unique like you. Others who have the same background, morals, opinions, traits, and of course good looks like you.
There is one thing I can say about my childhood, it was not typical. My dad was into health food before health food was even a term or a chain of grocery stores selling organic bulk foods. We had no sugar in the house, ground all our own flour, avoided all packaged food, took handfuls of vitamins, and sprinkled brewer’s yeast on our salads. Besides the religion of health food, we belonged to a very different religion that kept the Sabbath and Holy Days and observed food laws and more. Because 6 of the 8 members in my immediate family had red hair, there was no hiding among the crowd. People met us once and remembered us for years. We were known as the red headed family. My parents also decided to homeschool us before home-school was even a word and before curriculum choices had multiplied across the web. The only home-school group in our state consisted of me and my siblings.
I could go on, but the point is we did not fit perfectly anywhere or with any group. We were different, which we eventually figured out sometime during our childhood.
Perhaps it was when the other kids got to eat candy and we dried watermelon to satisfy our sweet tooth. Maybe it was when we finally ate bread that was light and fluffy, instead of the three pound loaves we ate at home. Like I said, eventually the truth dawned on us.
Maybe you are looking at the wrong thing.
Now I am not telling you all this to get some tears, because actually childhood wasn’t all sadness and weirdness. I would not trade it for something different because it shaped and formed me into the person I am today. I also have many fond memories of my childhood.
The point is, I know about not fitting in or being like everyone else. I know about being the weird one out. Been there and done that.
Now I am also going to tell you that in many ways my childhood was normal.
I had parents who loved me. Siblings to fight with and love fiercely. We lived in a big rambling house that sheltered us. My dad worked hard and provided for us. My mother did all the motherly things for us. We had a good education and had to do chores. We wore normal clothes. We attended church. My dad read books to us and mom taught us girls to sew. We had a dog, cats, chickens. We went on long car trips and saw the Grand Canyon, Disney Land, Hearst Castle, the dessert and ocean. We had people over for dinner, and we visited other people. We participated in activities and sports, joined clubs, and had friends. We attended family gatherings and saw our grandparents most Sunday evenings. We laughed a lot and acted like a family with 6 kids.
So, in many ways my childhood was typical and normal.
So what’s different between the two versions?
In the first version I am focusing on how my family was different from other families. In the second version, I focus on how we were like other families.
Get it? See the pattern?
How to feel like you belong:
Okay, this is my point. When we feel or think we don’t fit in, feel we don’t belong, are excluded from the circle, or are talking about them versus us, in most cases we are highlighting the differences. We are defining our self or them according to traits, habits, opinions, terms, choices, struggles, or experiences. We are comparing and contrasting in our brains and looking for the obvious differences, and then highlighting them and often growing them into these big excuses or reasons.
So here is what I am suggesting.
Instead of looking for the differences and the ways we are different from these people, or those folks, or that group, focus instead on the ways we are the same. Find the similarities. Look for the things we have in common. The things that make us say, “Yes, me too.”
We can always find differences and feel we don’t fit in. But we can also almost always find commonalities and similarities and begin to feel a connection and sense of belonging.
We humans have so many common experiences from just living. The joy of laughing. Being a child. Getting in trouble. Being scared. Not being picked first. Public speaking. Feeling the anger of someone. Disappointing another. The pleasure of friendship. the pain of teasing. Being the tallest, shortest, or in between.
Our past experiences and even current experiences may be different, but we are all humans and can relate on so many levels.
Who, if you have lived awhile, hasn’t experienced a broken heart that was shattered into so many pieces that you were afraid a wind would carry away the dust of your heart? Different situations may have broken your heart, but we can recall what a broken heart feels like and how it shapes the day, week, and months ahead. Whether it was caused by divorce, the death of a loved one, our company downsizing us out into the cold, a friend cheating us, or our business failing, we can relate and say, “Yes, me too.”
So I am asking you to stop and take a breath next time you feel you don’t fit in, or next time you feel you don’t have much in common with someone or a group, and start noticing the similarities. Start looking at them like they are people just like you. With hopes, hurts, loves, and insecurities. Relate and connect through the commonalities.
Bullies like to point out the differences and how we don’t belong due to some trait or experience or belief we don’t share with the rest of the group. Don’t listen to the lies of the Bully. He will tell you over and over you don’t belong or fit in because it makes him feel like he fits in even more. It also makes his group more exclusive. Ignore his message.
Humans always have more in common, than we have different. Always.
Looking for the differences creates anger, isolation, them and us, and promotes disrespect.
Looking for the similarities creates comradery, connection, understanding, and promotes kindness.
What do you think this world needs more of?
Right you are! Kindness.
So next time you feel like a shoe in a pile of jackets, look for similarities.
Remember: You do fit in! More than you think!
Don’t forget it!
Look for similarities!
Join the Discussion: What helps you when you feel outside the circle?
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