Not fitting in

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I’m in January mode:  a bit mellow after the holidays but abuzz with dreams and hopes that I’m eager to see realized.  With those dreams and hopes comes a putting on of the “big girl pants”:  paying attention to and acting decisively on matters about which I’ve been lax or disinterested.  Like creating a will and an advanced health care directive.  

Gulp.

The process makes you realize that few things on this earth are worthy of the level of importance that we give them.  As John Ortberg says:  “It all goes back in the box.”  We carry nothing with us to the grave.  

So as I pull my various ishes together, I begin reminiscing about relationships:  family, friends, school, college, work.  A theme of “not fitting in” starts to emerge.

I’ve always had a pervasive sense of not belonging.  Most people who know me would be surprised that I would think that way.  But for the longest while, I haven’t felt like I fit in, as much as I have wanted to.  The feeling of not fitting in was strong enough at times to push me into making less-than-wise choices.

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A few months ago in my quiet time, I raised the issue with God.  His response:  “You’re not supposed to fit in.”  

Huh?

But it makes sense.  Why would He make snowflakes unique and not human beings?  Why was I hankering after a sense of belonging among others that could only come via a relationship with Him?

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Most of us experience that desire to be part of the “in” crowd. To blend in.  To not be “other.”  The world would have us in lockstep on religion, politics, fashion, food, media–you name it–and the desire to conform is inculcated from early. So, breaking rank with the prevailing groupthink, and being comfortable in that decision, is challenging but very necessary.

I can’t say I’m totally free from wanting to fit in.  After all, it’s been part of my modus operandi for a quite a while.  But what I do see emerging is a growing unwillingness to be shackled to other people’s idea of what I should conform to.  Maturity might have a lot to do with it!  Thinking inside the box has its place, but it can become suffocating.

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So… I’m not fitting in.  And that’s okay.  In all of my hyphenated wonder (female-black-West Indian-professional-single-Christian-recovering people pleaser), I’m supposed to be different.  I’m called to be different. Even the Bible states that we Christians are a peculiar people.  Different, not deficient.

For all of you who have gone through or are going through the “not fitting in” blues, take heart.  As you choose to be the real you, the authentic you, your tribe will emerge.  

Like-minded folk will be drawn to your uniqueness.  They will celebrate your joie de vivre, cosign on your whimsy, clink their champagne glasses to your je ne sais quoi, and revel in your randomness.  But they’ll never get a chance to do so if you meld into the vast sea of sameness that’s out there.  Been there; done that.  So not worth it!

Remember Scott Stratten’s advice:

authentic self

Do you struggle with not fitting in? Or are you a rugged individualist?


Comments

  1. LOVE that quote. It is perfect. I have been talking a lot recently to my older daughter about this exact issue. And I just ran into a mom from school this morning, and we were having the same conversation. This is such a great post! :)-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted..Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backwards…Or Something Like ThatMy Profile

  2. Hi Ali! I’m your neighbor at Doing You Well Wednesday.

    What a wisdom you received from the Lord! And it makes so much sense. None of us are the same, yet we are all the same, just like the snowflakes. So of course, we can feel like we don’t fit in sometimes. And I do think that sometimes we are not meant to fit in. We’re supposed to move on to the right place for us.

    I know sometimes I think I should be with this person or that person. Truth is, God knows best and if it doesn’t work out then…time to move on.

    I’m glad a ‘fit in’ with you! Happy New Year to us :)
    Ceil
    Ceil recently posted..Prepare with PrayerMy Profile

  3. Yes, indeed, Ceil, we are a good fit! You’re right that sometimes we’re not meant to fit in. We have a hard time with that fact because everything in us wants to fit in because it’s what everyone else does. But God often has a better plan for our “otherness”. The key is to recognize that He’s still in control and yield to His plan.
    Alison recently posted..Not fitting inMy Profile

  4. I have definitely not fit in before but I can’t say that it was a struggle. I usually develop the eff you attitude if ppl around me don’t really like me being around. It has worked thus far and I’ve been in some pretty regular environments (like the youth dept at church when I was growing up and the ex fiancé’s immediate family, lol). I have never cared but I can say that I am grateful to enjoy my church family (not really peers, they aren’t there anymore and my new boo’s family loves me) . There is definitely positives to fitting in. I can honestly say though, I’m so good either way ;)

    Excellent share!
    Joi @ Rx Fitness Lady recently posted..Laughing is Good for the Soul – Icebreakers and GamesMy Profile

  5. Alison, it’s amazing how God works. He will open up your eyes to things and give you understanding in ways you wouldn’t imagine. I’ve been dealing with a similar issue and today I was lead to your blog, Andrea’s blog, and Teems’ blog– reading posts from all three of you ladies about fitting in. I’ve been in and out of social circles, so not always fitting in with the “in-crowd” wasn’t as devastating as feeling I didn’t fit in with my community, church, and sometimes even family. But I’m learning that it’s okay to stand out, or to go against the norm. People who really love me and share God’s love will love and accept me for who I am, flaws and all. I hope you’ve been enjoying your week so far, Alison! Thanks for sharing the inspiration and encouragement!
    Drea recently posted..When I Was Gab’s AgeMy Profile

    • It’s been a very cold week, Andrea, but I give thanks in it all. It could be way worse.

      Amazing how sometimes we are all dealing with similar issues at the same time! The takeaway is that it’s okay to be who we are. God will fit us in where we need to and bring to us the people that we need, at the right time. He’s good like that!

  6. I think I’m a rugged individualist – and proud. I think I was always trying to fit in a little less, which sounds weird, but I come from a family of five kids and I wanted to run away always.
    They did teach me how to be my authentic self and that did mean I had to admit all of the things I wouldn’t do with them – roller coasters, white water rafting, drinking, drugs, etc. So I was happy to be a bit offbeat, because hey, I’m the TV/ice cream type sometimes, and other times, I am wild in my own travel ways.
    Tamara recently posted..Wherever I May Roam.My Profile

  7. People who fit in and don’t stand out are never talked about….I want people to talk about me so I can’t fit in. Great post

  8. My daughter collects quotes like these, about being yourself and standing out. I think that’s a wonderful thing to do at any age, but especially as a teen. I think I am authentic, and I don’t try to be who I am not. Yet wanting to fit in is part of human nature – or at least wanting to be accepted. But I suppose those are two different things, aren’t they?
    Dana recently posted..My outside heartsMy Profile

    • In a way they are two distinct things, but there’s a certain amount of blending of the concepts, Dana. Often people feel that they don’t fit in because they’re clinging, rightly so, to their authentic selves but want acceptance and a sense of belonging with others. I’m glad that your daughter has latched on to such quotes at her tender age. It bodes very well for her in the future!
      Alison recently posted..Not fitting inMy Profile

  9. i know how you feel. so many times, i’m with a group of people and i have nothing to say or contribute. or i’m thinking, what am i doing here? it’s like being alone even though you’re not. so strange! i feel like that a lot, but i know it’s ok.
    catherine gacad recently posted..Farewell Apartment, I Will Miss YouMy Profile

  10. And sameness is just boring. Love that quote you found at the end. I’ve tried to fit in on some jobs. Then I’d be ready to move and find employment elsewhere and vow to be myself from the get go. I started off a job keeping to myself and reading on my lunch break. The receptionist told me one day, “Honey you’re gonna have to go in the lunch room sometime with those girls or they’re going to think you’re stuck up.” So I did and started the same cycle on my job again. On my last job I was the memorable outcast because I refused to conform and play along. I didn’t not participate in secret santa or dress up of Halloween and didn’t always participate in the luncheons. They got over it ;-).
    Kenya G. Johnson recently posted..The Science Project Story – Part Two…My Profile

    • I know they did get over it! I’m the same way at work. I have one or two good friends but I’m not into the “lunch bunch” and all of the chisme (gossip in Spanish). It gets tired, and as old people say back home: “Who bringing carrying!” (whoever brings gossip to you will gossip on you too). So they know to leave me alone, smile sweetly and get to stepping. LOL

  11. I don’t think I’ve ever fit in. It doesn’t matter once you’re out of high school though, really. Good friends like you for who you are. If only we could learn this earlier in life!!
    Michelle recently posted..The Mother of All Meltdowns Brought Us Together #AskAwayFridayMy Profile

    • Very true, Michelle. Sometimes, despite being told this from a young age, it is a challenge for some folks. But with age and maturity, we come to the point of really not caring much about those who will not receive us and surround ourselves who accept us as is.

  12. Oh Alison it’s as if you are telling my story minus a few details of course :) Feelings of not quite finding our place is one many of us struggle with I suppose. But it’s just like our loving Father to show us that it was never his intention any way.
    Wanda recently posted..Friday Finds: Weekly Blog LoveMy Profile

  13. This so hits home with me. I have always carried a sense of not belonging. Gratefully, I embraced that feeling early on and created spaces and authentic relationships where I do belong. I love that your “answer” or aha moment came from the Lord in that you aren’t made to belong. That’s awesome! Good stuff Alison.
    Andrea recently posted..Love is a Drug & the Junkies are in Need of a FixMy Profile

  14. I know I don’t fit in anywhere. I’m okay with that. It took a while to come to terms with it, but I’m fine with it now. Now. I expect to be outside the crowd.

  15. I definitely used to deal with fitting in issues when I was younger. but thankfully as i got older i became more comfortable and confident in my own skin and realized that if i’m not happy or feel uncomfortable or feel that i don’t fit it in a situation I just remove myself from it. It no longer bothers me to not fit in. I’m happy with me.
    Cassandre recently posted..California Dreaming and #NYCFitBrunch RecapMy Profile

    • Sounds like you’ve be on the right path, Cassandre. I think it takes some of us longer than others. The key is to embrace the fact that we are okay as is and that fitting in isn’t a desirable goal for the vast majority of people.

  16. Love, love, love that quote Ali! And love your quote too…different, not deficient! Love it! I sometimes go between the two. You know we have to have community right, but we must master the art of “being in this world, but not of it”. Just as you said, with me as well…the older I get, the more I could care less about “fitting in”. There is truth in growing old gracefully(skilled and refined). :-) Thanks for the reminder Alison!
    Michell recently posted..Mastering YOU Monday…lessons I’ve learnedMy Profile

    • Hey Michell! The “Different, not deficient” quote actually was originally used by Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Obama fame. I always thought it was an on-point description of our uniqueness. Definitely agree about mastering being in, not of. A delicate balance sometimes, isn’t it?
      Alison recently posted..Here’s to fond memories…My Profile

  17. I’m so glad I stopped in for this today. LOVED every word because this has been my “modus operandi” for most of my life too. It was somthing I wrestled with this past weekend while at the Compel Conference and I kept working past it with a focus on God created me to be who I am. And wow…what a delight the conference was with my eyes set on Him.
    Great encouragement!!
    Thanks my friend.
    xoxoxo
    Beth recently posted..Three Word Wednesday: Sweet B mugMy Profile

  18. Alison, excellent post my friend. I adore that quote. I do believe that we are all very unique but sometimes the pressures of wanting to fit in can be overwhelming for ALL of us. I do believe that God puts certain folks in our life to blend with…the popular peeps can stay popular as long as you have quality folks in your life!
    Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama recently posted..Weekly Wednesday Workout: Crab DipsMy Profile

    • I like that, Nellie. Some of us are are blenders (we blend in with them easily and it works); others are straight shots, no chasers (the individualists who carve their own paths and refuse to fit in. But you’re right: quality trumps quantity!

  19. Great post! I think there are more of us that Don’t fit in than do fit in! I wouldn’t have it any other way :) <3 from #SITS
    Heather @floridafitnessmom recently posted..Crispy Kale ChipsMy Profile

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