I have never been someone who fit in quickly and swiftly. I have always challenged the boundaries, took calculated (and sometimes non-calculated) risks and chased them after whatever I wanted. We are all born with this inborn desire to be accepted, to be recognised. To fit in.
The issue is this: when you put too much effort in your endeavour to fit in, you lose a part of yourself.
And what the world requires most is for you to be YOU — daring, unregretful, thoughtful, conquer-the-world you.
Standing out is lonely. It can be self-intimidating. It can be a terrifying experience. Some of the common responses many people who I have come across in my life to this ideology gave were:
- “Your life would be so boring.”
- “Where’s the fun of living a lonely life?”
- “How are you going to have kids then?”
- “You’re so anti-social! Come alive, dude!”
However, none of their answers would change the fact that to make a difference, you have to be different. You have to be YOU.
The thought of fitting in governed my actions, in and outside of school. However, trying to behave and think like everyone else did not bring me joy and euphoria. I was not like everybody else. Instead of watching “must-watch” cartoon shows and films (e.g., Phineas and Ferb, Harry Potter film series, etc.), I wanted to ride a bicycle and play with Lego bricks. Instead of playing football, I wanted to swim and play badminton.
However, a near-drowning incident when I was seven left a traumatic mental impact and as a result. My parents put me through swimming lessons shortly after the experience, but their efforts proved futile. When I was able to swim correctly and pick up water survival skills at 23, it came to me that the reason why I struggled so hard to learn to swim in the beginning is that my parents thought I could recover from the harrowing incident at their pace, not mine.
As it turned out, the things that held me back most from fitting in (my willingness to be stand out from the crowd, to work relentlessly and be fearful of not taking risks, my persistent optimism, and my refusal to back down from a challenge) are the very qualities I attribute my success to.
Here are five reasons why I believe everyone should just stop in their conquest of fitting in:
1. It Deteriorates Your Health
Trying to be someone you are not can make you sad, place redundant stress into your life, and harms your wellness in terms of physical, mental and spiritual. It is fatiguing trying to be someone you are not for the sake of impressing a community you are raised in.
I am currently striving to make new connections and spend my time with people who genuinely appreciate my 100% authentic self. Through this, I learned that it is better to have a small circle of loyal than having a large circle of acquaintances.
2. It Inhibits The Growth Of Your Creativity
Strict guidelines and norms are not precisely fundamental elements needed to drive creativity. Neither is judgement, humiliation, or embarrassment. Give yourself some personal space to develop something new instead of trying to be what everyone expects you to be.
You do not have to be at the front of the stage and under the limelight to be valuable. For instance, in a play, the person would not be on the stage without a scriptwriter, a director, stage manager, or costume designer. There are a lot of valuable components involved to pull off a creative stunt. The same applies to the world of sports and business.
The best teams I have been a part of, be it at school or work, are the ones that have the most diversity.
3. Your Full Potential Remains Locked
Once you begin living your life on your terms instead of others’, you will unlock a path to amazing things and enriching experiences. Channel your energy into becoming the best possible version of yourself, rather than attempting to gain recognition and seal of approval from everyone around you.
Your differences are your strengths and what makes you unique.
4. It Will Not Help You Get What You Want
Is there a void between what you actually want and what your parents, friends, work colleagues think you should want? What is your heart telling you? What is your inner voice saying to you? Once you get out of this trap, you will be free to chase after the things that matter most to you (not to everyone else).
Besides, everyone measures success differently, and so, what success means to you is totally up to you.
5. It Blocks You From Truly Belonging
It is slightly counterintuitive, but once you accept the fact that your one-of-a-kind character does not warrant the need to fit in, you will be able to allow your true self to be known and have more relationships that are both meaningful and long-lasting.
When you live your life authentically, you attract people with similar passions and find new connections.
“Do not worry about fitting in. It is completely over-rated.”Nicola Walker
Now, where to from here?
If you are struggling to fit yourself nicely into the crowd, do not worry about it. Treat it as a sign that you were never meant to follow the rules and expectations set forth by society. Not fitting in means either you belong in the wrong place or you have what it takes to be extraordinary.
You may have less time for your parents and lose a couple of friends in the process. However, always remember what Martha Kent said in the superhero film Batman v Superman : Dawn of Justice: “You do not owe this world a thing. You never did.” The only person you owe is yourself.
That said, summon the bravery to stand out like a sore thumb, cherish your talents and strengths and do the things that put a smile on your face. You and the rest of the world will be much better off for it.