How do I fit in? Do I want to fit in? Am I a misfit?

Some background, some drama

We all want to stand out in some way, but we also want to fit in: to feel we belong, that we are part of a community. Sometimes, fitting in is not so easy. Being shy and introverted or hardly brimming with natural self-confidence makes it all the more difficult.

Feeling we fit in helps make us more relaxed, more motivated and more self-assured. This helps us feel good about ourselves, perform better and be more willing to help others. Ultimately it is important, however to realise that it’s more important to belong rather than just fit in.

Do’s and Don’ts

Fitting in is the greatest barrier to belonging. It involves assessing situations and groups of people, then twisting yourself in order to get them to let you hang out with them. Belonging is something else entirely; it's showing up and letting yourself be seen and known as you really are. The “How Do I" series tries to list down a few Do’s and don’ts to guide and help to accept yourself, fit in and eventually belong.

Do’s

  • Start by being friendly.
  • Be cheerful and happy, smile at everyone as you walk past them.
  • Use every opportunity that comes by to strike up a conversation.
  • Keep looking for a group that's a good fit for you. Common interests are usually the starting points for getting a sense of belonging.
  • Work on your social skills and the ability to connect to people.
  • Help other people to feel comfortable and make them belong. Reach the point at which you feel confident helping others fit in; that's when you truly fit in. It's about the group and the people in that group.
  • Forget the so called cool people and just find your people.
  • Accept that you are already a fine person. Stop looking outside yourself to see if you’re pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough or rich enough. You will always belong when you know that you already are enough.

Dont’s

  • Don't try too hard. That would be annoying. Just be casual, cool and relaxed.
  • Don’t change for a group of people that seem really cool. Be yourself, because that will make you much happier and more successful, not to mention less stressed about always acting like someone else.
  • Don’t think that you are just better than the rest and too good to fit in.
  • Don’t be a crowd pleaser all the time. You have to make “me first" your mantra.
  • Don’t keep putting yourself last; your ideas, opinions and thoughts matter as much.
  • Don’t put people on a pedestal and then try to constantly measure up. If you gave yourself more credit you might be able to get along with everyone just fine.
  • Don’t be afraid to communicate, take part in events and socialise.

Last words

Sometimes people will feel they have issues preventing them from finding some friends and fitting into any one social group. Instead they fall into an in-between zone where they feel they are not that great of a match for anyone and slip through the cracks. Remember you are fine just the way you are. Aim to belong than to merely fit in.

Sources and citations