What does it mean to fit in a group, a class, a community, a workplace? Why do we all so persistently try to become somebody like all the others?
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”Dr. Seuss
Years back, I applied for a course, completely irrelevant to my job, but on a subject I was interested in. In the registration form, I had to complete was a question about my identity. Let me clarify, it did not mean my ID number but who am I and how would I identify myself as a person.
Suddenly, I realized that I did not know what to answer. My name and my occupation, the let’s say more obvious answers for such a question, both were in different sections of this form. So, what did they want me to write there?
Both of these questions were fighting in my mind in this order. The first, was “who am I and what is my identity? “And then, “what do they want me to write here?” Translated to “what do they expect me to be?”
The Real Question That Needs to Be Answered is “Who are we really?”
Spontaneously I wrote that “I am a free person able to become whatever I want to”. But just as I wrote it I erased it because I thought it was stupid. I felt embarrassed even by the thought of having written something like this on an application form. I left the field blank. After all, probably they did not expect something like this as an answer.
Later that day, I was talking to a friend of mine. I told her “if I ask you who you are what would you answer?”. Her first reply was her name, her second her occupation. I asked her again and she did not know what to answer either.
When I told her about the application form she was definite that they were probably asking about my job and that I was far too silly to think about it so much and so philosophically.
Was it me and the fact that I was thinking about it too much that I had the problem or all of us when we instinctively try to label ourselves with just one of our qualities? And that quality would be the one we think people will appreciate us more for, the one that will make us fit in better to whatever this world wants us to fit in.
My Desperate, Constant Fight to Fit In Everything I Felt I Had to Fit In
Most of my life until recently, I spent it trying to adjust to a way of living that was mostly accepted by others. I spent time working in something I never liked. It was though highly appreciated by the community I live in. I allowed myself be surrounded by people I felt like I had nothing in common. All I did was I adjusted my behavior, my choices, and my life.
I honestly had this belief that if I express myself people would laugh at me. That they would not accept me, that they would judge me and I would be alone. I would not belong anywhere when I needed to belong somewhere. I desperately wanted to fit in whatever others wanted me to be a part of. So, I just had to adjust.
“Plants are more courageous than almost all human beings: an orange tree would rather die than produce lemons, whereas instead of dying the average person would rather be someone they are not.”Mokokoma Mokhonoana
See, I grew up thinking that life is a constant fight for surviving and that those who survive are those who adjust. There were things that I just had to put up with to be able to do some other things. I never thought that life could also be about living the life I want to live and being surrounded by those I want to.
This is why I chose to enter a profession I did not like because it would provide me some financial security, prosperity, and other people’s acceptance. This is why most of the time I prioritized other things than my joy of doing the things I love.
The Fear to Accept That Yourself Is Unique And More Than Good Enough
Truth is that I, like most people, was too afraid to let my true self come out. I was trying to hide as much as possible. I thought that people would not like me if they knew all about me, that if I didn’t fit in people wouldn’t respect me anymore.
When we try so hard to fulfill the expectations of others it becomes exhausting. It takes so much energy out of us to try every time to please everyone and forget all about ourselves and our needs.
“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”Lao Tzu
Accepting the fact that you Don’t Need to Fit In
Surprisingly enough, if you decide to accept yourself in all your weirdness, those who matter to you will still be there. Those we love and appreciate the most, already know us deep inside and have accepted us a long time before we accepted ourselves. Before we even realized that we are enough without trying to fit in, they knew we are more than enough.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”Bernard M. Baruch
And honestly, there is no point to care about any of the rest. The moment we accept ourselves in all our weirdness we make ourselves our priority. Our weirdness is unique and should be celebrated instead of hidden away like a fault. We only have one life in this world and we should live it following our dreams and no one else’s.
“It’s weird not to be weird.”John Lennon
Why Fit in With the Normality Tribes when you Can Create Your Own?
There is no point trying to fit in with the so-called successful ones, the popular ones, the important ones if that makes us feel miserable. Our weirdness is unique enough to identify us and if we let ourselves be open we will soon realize that this world is full of people who are there to appreciate this weirdness and adore us for exactly what we are.
“There are no norms. All people are exceptions to a rule that doesn’t exist.”Fernando Pessoa
Above all, being who we are means that we don’t fit into what others want us to fit in. Being who we are means that we create around us a community of people who truly get us, set us free, and become our people. The normality tribes are left behind and we create a tribe of our own. A tribe where we know that we can truly belong.
“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”Maya Angelou
If you liked this you might also like “Choose Joy -5 Reasons to Empower your Choice for Joy” or “What is Happiness and Will I Ever Reach it?“
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