Letting Go: Fitting In


Innately, we all have a need to be liked and be accepted by others. Though individual uniqueness is starting to be celebrated much more in the world, most people still have to get over the biological need to fit in, look like everyone else, act like everyone else, follow the same path as everyone else, etc...

This need starts early on in grade school. If you were too short, too tall, didn't wear the right shoes, didn't eat the right lunch, didn't play the right sports, etc.... you did not fit into certain groups.  Social groups, playmates, work colleagues, etc... all have a baseline standard of alikeness. And yes, we naturally gravitate towards people with similar experiences, similar ethics, and similar interests, because that is where we feel most comfortable. 

Do you remember your first relationship? Probably. And when (or if) it didn't work out, you were devastated because you felt unlovable, like a failure, and maybe even unpopular. Then you learn that there are a lot of other people out there that you can have wonderful relationships with. Romantic relationships are not the only type to work through; do you remember the first time one of your friends (probably in third or fourth grade) told you that they did not want to be friends with you? Your thinking probably spiraled to "I don't have any friends" or "nobody likes me"; but then eventually you find your match or find more friends. I still remember when I came to school in fourth grade and my best friend told me that I wasn't her best friend anymore, now Debbie was her best friend - I was crushed!! Of course, the next day things were back to normal and we are still great friends to this day1

My point is this: you don't need to fit in. Be your unique, glorious self! If you have to force a relationship or you just don't click with someone, it's okay! This goes for romantic relationships, friends, employers, coworkers, etc..... if it's not working for you, let it go and move on. 

There is a group of moms that I used to be friends with where the conversation always felt a little forced and superficial. We never got too far past a surface level friendship. It always bothered me, and the last time this happened, I started thinking about it; I wanted to feel included but really did not even enjoy spending time with them! Why force something that is not working? It did not make a lot of sense to me and I've just eventually let it go. And guess what, that opened the way for some new friends that I will likely have through life! 

I really want to address is your goals.  When I say "don't worry about what everyone thinks",  I want you  to have big, monstrous dreams and I want you to go for them without caring about the naysayers. Maybe your dream to own a coffee shop isn't stable enough for your family or your dream to be a photographer is not what your parents want you to do.  Maybe all of your friends have steady 9-5 jobs and you are a weekend warrior.  

You can't control what other people think
If you don't click with someone, move on! If your job depends on it, stay friendly and professional, but don't feel like you have to force a connection. And if you are feeling left out of a group that you want to be included in, make an effort to connect and if it doesn't work, move on.

Always be kind
You do not need to be rude or dismissive; you don't have to be friends with everyone, but you should be polite. When we are hurt and feeling left out, we may lash out or be rude as a defense or coping mechanism. Rise above those emotions and be kind.

You won't please every one
I am a huge people pleaser and it has caused great amounts of stress on several occasions. One of the beautiful things about our world today is that we are entitled to opinions. Some people exercise that right a lot more than others! That is okay - just move on and accept that you cannot and will not make everyone happy. There are 7 billion people in the world - keep looking and you will find your tribe.

Gratitude: remember your friends
Chances are, you have some great friends, supportive family members, and a great community or network somewhere. Instead of focusing your efforts on the one or two people who you aren't fitting in with, focus on the other wonderful people in your life right now.

WellnessJoanna Simmon