“Belonging has always been a fundamental driver of humankind”Brian Chesky
We all want to be loved, have healthy relationships and a sense of purpose in our lives. Life itself can be visualised as a wave where it ebbs and flows, rises and falls, and continually changes, adapts and alters parts of its path. We can all feel at times in our life like we don’t fit in. This could be shyness from a young age, moving into a different cultural dynamic or even a career change in a new city. In this article we will strike a healthy balance on ways you can create stronger and healthier social dynamics, connect with others more deeply, yet also find your own way, your unique path that does not have to follow convention. It is very important for our health to have human interaction and relationships, but that does not mean you have to follow the norm in each new location. Sometimes the stars that shine brightest innovate first.
Why do we want to fit in so badly?
“Familiarity is the social glue that bonds people together, and we deliberately seek out the similar and the recognizable in order to feel secure. If we’re doing the same as everyone else, we must be doing it right, and finding a reflection of ourselves in those around us is a form of validation.”
It is perfectly normal to want to fit in for validation, security of other humans, opportunities to find love and more. Joanna Cannon further discusses the idea that from an early age on the playground we mimic other children’s behaviours to validate ourselves. As adults, we priorities ordinary and can exclude others because it makes us question our own validation of ourselves that we have been working on for decades of our lives since the playground.
It is motivating for us to be part of a group. Art Markman, Ph.D. looked at a series of studies which showed that people with simple things such as the same birthday worked harder together to complete a task as it showed that sense of belonging to another person with the same birthday. This study also showed how people can feel more warmth to one another just from a simple connection of belonging.
According to Blue Zones social isolation can cause a decrease in our mental well-being due to stress hormones rising when our self-worth decreases. They also suggest that a sense of belonging can actually increase your lifespan;
“Dr. James House at the University of Michigan found the chance of dying over a period of 10 years increases by 10 percent for people who live alone or have only a few friends compared to people with more friends and family.”
Why you may feel like you don’t fit in anywhere
It is normal to feel insecure at stages in our life and not have a full understanding your self-image and identity. We will now explore some reasons why you may feel like ‘I don’t fit in anywhere,’ and once you begin to understand this further you will then have deeper foundations to explore ways to create the life you desire.
- Rejection: Everyone on the planet, past present and even in the future will at some point in their life if not more frequently receive some form of rejection. When you are in the mindset that you are not fitting in a rejection will have a particularly deep impact on you. When we exchange information it is simply an exchange of data and all that happened in that one situation was that the data did not transfer from one person to the next smoothly. Perhaps your body language did not match you words with authenticity or perhaps you were rushed and stressed on that day. This is all perfectly normal and happens to us all as human beings. Imagine saying hello to someone you sit next to on a train with a smile and you ask them how their day was? Such a simple question in a kind manner would normally receive a positive response. Having said this many people may in fact respond slightly awkwardly to such a question. In reality this says far more about that person than it does about you. Perhaps they are having a bad day, perhaps they are quite shy, perhaps they have something going on in their lives. If you are kind and positive towards other people when you first meet them, responses from others often says a lot more about them than it does you. In a situation whereby you face a rejection, take a positive stance, learn from the situation, wish them all the best, walk away from the situation and grow as a person.
- Interconnected: We live in such a fast paced world which is so interconnected now. It is truly wonderful that we are developing cross cultural dynamics and what matters is human kindness, compassion and equality and respect for others. Coming from a different cultural background, different belief systems, the way we look, and emergence of new ideas and more can case us to feel uncomfortable in new scenarios and dynamics. Be proud of who you are and learn about new cultures and the world with an open mind and compassion.
- Introverted: If you are an introverted individual this of course does not mean in anyway that you are not a happy individual. You may be very happily married, have children and a good job, but you have a close knit family and perhaps parties and social gatherings make you feel uncomfortable. This does not mean that you need to drastically change who you are or become an extrovert in any way. Every human being can benefit from becoming a better communicator and learning how to create deeper connections. See more below.
- Trying too Hard: When we feel like not fitting in and then we do all of a sudden create a connection and make someone else smile, it is possible that we can try too hard. We can try too hard to belong. Becoming happy with ourselves is the key to fitting in, because we show up with authenticity and we share our story with others and we are kind enough to listen to their story too.
How to feel like you belong?
- Pursue new hobbies: Take up new hobbies with things that resonate with you and your passions. Do not focus on fitting in, instead be consistent with the hobby, get better and learn new skill sets. Be kind and positive with people you interact with. In time your passion and new found skill sets will give you more confidence and a stronger sense of identity. Naturally from this people will be drawn to you.
- Practice mindful communication: By being present minded and engaged with another individual we can empathise better with what they are saying; their needs, values, the undertone of their words. Mindful listening can open up deep connections with others. In our article apology language we also discuss how to create more harmonious relationships and make deeper connections with others.
- Practice mindfulness: When we practice being in the present moment and observe our feelings, thoughts and emotions without judgment we can be authentic with ourselves and from this organically explore what makes us happy. Our wellbeing training has exercises for mindful thing, emotional intelligence and meditations. It also shows you how to build up strong social connections and create a sense of identity surrounding yourself with positive constructs for your happiness.
You don’t need to fit in to be happy
“Fitting in is boring. But it takes you nearly your whole life to work that out.”Clare Balding
In our video interview with Transformation Coach Osha Key, someone asked how to make instant connections with others? Osha shared that you need to know who you are and be fully connected with yourself. You can read someone’s energy, someone’s needs, read them at their level. Its about being curious and leaving your ego aside. It also requires a lot of self-acceptance and self love. because you will be too much up in your head and not relaxed in your body.
Please explore more about self-acceptance in our article – you are good enough and this is why.
A sense of belonging is very important in order for us to feel that we matter, we have love and we have security within social groups. In order for us to feel like we fit in we first must work on ourselves. Working on self-acceptance and creating a healthy relationship with ourselves will not only make us much happier and be able to work through life’s challenges in a healthie manner; but ironically through practicing self-acceptance we will become much more authentic, have a stronger sense of our own identity and from this others will be drawn towards us.
Practice mindfulness and mindful lisetning to increase authentic empathy with others.
Partake in new hobbies and social groups for the purpose of your own passions and allow organic connections to grow through this process.
Thanks for listening.