I don't belong or fit in

Are My Feelings Normal?

Most of us feel that we don’t belong or fit in at some point in our lives and in different situations. We may feel more confident in some situations than in others. We also may feel like we don’t belong or fit in, in new environments or social situations, like a new school, job, or community. Most people want to feel accepted by their peer group and to have friends that they feel they have things in common with.

 

Should I Be Worried?

Feeling like you don’t belong can put pressure on you to fit in so you don’t stand out and get labeled as “weird”, since that may lead to teasing or even worse, bullying . These thoughts of “I don’t fit in” can lead to feeling lonely and isolated. This often means that you may be giving up who you really are and as a result you may hurt yourself emotionally in the process. The loneliness and isolation could lead to feeling sad, angry or depressed. If you are  harassed, bullied or experience discrimination based on your race, gender, sexual orientation, disability,  you may feel like you don’t belong or fit in and may be afraid to express yourself freely due to prejudice, hostility,  or aggression from others. In this case it would be really important to talk to a caring adult in your home, school, or in your community. While it is important to know that it is normal to feel like we don’t always belong or fit in some environments and social situations, it is also helpful to know how to deal with some of these strong emotions and thoughts.


Tips for Prevention and Wellness    


1.) Don’t be hard on yourself
Sometimes, it is not the people around you, but your thoughts and emotions that tell you that you don’t fit in. You may actually fit in just fine, but you still experience yourself as an outsider. Feeling like an outsider may even lead you to believe that there’s something wrong with you…but in reality you are okay just the way you are.  Eleanor Roosevelt said beautifully: “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent. ”

 

It’s important to know that it is also okay to be different and to be yourself. Being yourself means that you give yourself permission to focus on your own talents, skills and goals, as do many famous people who felt that they didn’t belong as kids or even adults. People who aren’t afraid to be different gain the freedom to be who they truly are and to express themselves in ways that are uniquely theirs. We need to keep in mind that often it is people that honor their uniqueness that make the biggest impact in our world and usually have something truly special to offer. Wanting to change who you are, just to fit in with a specific group of people, is not always best for you. You may end up losing yourself in the process of wanting to have approval from others.  You have so much more to offer by being true to yourself.


2.) Surround yourself with positive people and activities
To help you find a place where you feel you belong, try to make friends with people who have similar interests, goals, and talents as you. Things you can try are:

  • Join a youth group that interests you or visit a local youth drop-in centre
  • Develop a hobby by taking a class or connecting with someone else who has the same hobby
  • Volunteer in your community doing something that interests you
  • Learn to become a mentor or a community leader and give back to your community
  • Stay active—join a gym, sports team or group, running group, fitness class, dance class—whatever you enjoy!

 

3.) Get help with anger and aggression if this is a factor for you
People who are seen as angry and aggressive are often isolated by their peers. Usually we remember angry people because of how we feel when we are around them…mostly, we feel uncomfortable. So, if you're angry and aggressive most of the time, most people will steer clear of you.  Often angry people end up hanging out with other angry people and they too feel like they don’t belong. Also, anger gets in the way of having positive relationships and positive life experiences. If you are concerned about your anger or aggression and that it is getting in the way of your relationships with others, it may help to talk to a counsellor about this.

 

4.) If you have trouble talking to new people, practice!

Some people are shy by nature and have trouble starting conversations or forming friendships. This is very normal for many people, since not all people are “social butterflies”. But, you can learn to overcome shyness enough to be able to talk to new people and form friendships. All this usually takes is practice, so you need to give yourself the chance to build your skills and confidence. Accept an invitation to a party, try doing something or joining a group you never thought of before, talk to that person you noticed in your class or in your neighbourhood and see what happens! If this is hard for you, try spending time with an outgoing friend who can introduce you to new people and places. Or, if talking to people in general makes you nervous or you have anxiety [establish link] and don’t know where to start, talking to a counsellor can help.

 

5.) DREAM, EXPLORE and SET GOALS
Focus on what you want in your life:

  • What are your dreams?
  • What do you love to do and what makes you feel happy?
  • What do you want to explore and learn?
  • What goals do you have this year, next year, in 5 years?
  • What places, countries and wonders of the world would you love to visit some day?

 

Make a plan, break down the steps and work on one small step at a time. By focusing on what you want in your life, you will attract people with similar interests and a positive attitude. Living to your full potential and being true to who you are, doing the things you are passionate about, will truly bring you happiness and you will no longer be paying attention to  “I need to fit in and belong” as you will be living the life YOU want to live.

 

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