by Catherine Pratt
Do you feel like an outsider, like you don’t belong anywhere or that you just don’t fit in?
I spent a lot of my life feeling like an outsider. The good news is that we’re in very good company. I’ve read the autobiographies of some of the most famous people in the world and I found so many times that they said the same thing, “I felt like an outsider.” Whether it's scientists, politicians, athletes, artists, or just anyone who has made a difference in the world, you'll usually find that they felt like they didn't belong at some point in time. People like: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Anne Rice, and Maria Shriver are just a few. Even Tom Cruise (plus you'll find 49 other famous celebrities on this page who were bullied including royalty Kate Middleton) was bullied as a child because he had dyslexia and felt he didn’t fit in because of it.
Ronnie Burkett is someone who's been declared “a genius” in some circles for his amazing theatre work using puppets. I recently had the opportunity to see one of his productions and they truly are heart wrenching as well as thought provoking. Ronnie has said that the only reason he discovered this talent was because at the age of seven he felt like an outsider and was so unhappy that he ended up reading the encyclopedia. One of the articles that captivated him was on puppets and this started a whole new life for him.
While it’s good to know we’re in good company, it also helps to know how to deal with these feelings.
Here are 5 tips for when you feel like an outsider or that you just don’t belong anywhere.
1. Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself
Often it’s really only your own mind and emotions that tell you that you don’t fit in. You may actually fit in fine, you just think of yourself as an outsider. It definitely doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
It’s important to know that feeling like you don’t belong isn’t always a bad thing either. Emily Dickinson wrote a poem called, "I'm Nobody! Who Are You?" where she describes how being an outsider can actually be helpful. It can allow you to concentrate on your own ambitions and goals without feeling like you have to conform to other people's standards. You can do your own thing. You can read Dickinson's complete poem and an analysis of why it's good to be an outsider here: https://interestingliterature.com/2016/02/26/a-short-analysis-of-emily-dickinsons-im-nobody-who-are-you/
Remember, it’s the people that are unique in this world that make the biggest impact and usually have something truly special to provide.
You don’t want to change yourself just to fit in with a certain group of people. That's where a lot of people go wrong. They end up wanting to gain approval from others and end up losing themselves in the process. You have so much more to offer by being true to yourself. So, don't limit yourself to being the same as everyone else. Challenge yourself to be the absolute best you can be.
When you feel like you're not fitting in, ask yourself if it's because of what you're thinking? Are you thinking thoughts like:
Thinking thoughts like these doesn't help you. All it does it get you stuck feeling bad about yourself and you have no way to move forwards. These thoughts may not even be true. It may be just because you continue to tell yourself these thoughts over and over that they become true for you. So, if you catch yourself thinking one of these thoughts, turn it around and ask yourself questions like:
What steps can you take to start moving your life in the direction you want?
These kind of questions will get you out of feeling negative about yourself and will give your mind a way to think of some positive action you could take. You'll be able to see that you do have incredible power to make changes in your life.
2. Get Comfortable in Your Own Skin
It's okay to be different. In fact, it's usually a really good thing. Think about the people you admire most in the world. Do you admire them because they're the same as everyone else or because they fit in with everyone else? No, you think they're amazing because there's no one else quite like them. They're unique and they're proud to share that with the rest of the world.
There is only one you in the entire universe and it may be time to explore that person and figure out what you like and what makes you happy. Also, figure out if you’re self-sabotgaing yourself with your own limiting beliefs or feeling angry all the time. You truly are a special person with your own amazing gifts, thoughts, and ideas. Get to know yourself better. Accept who you are and then start to appreciate all the things that make you so unique.
When I first started out to get comfortable with myself, I gave myself the goal of “to be happy, healthy, positive, and to develop and maintain an inner peace.” I had to search deep inside myself to figure out what was going on and why I wasn't happy with myself at the time but it’s definitely been worth it. Once you explore those feelings, you can then let them go and move on from them. You also become much stronger and wiser by going through this process.
The other great thing about getting comfortable in your own skin is that you'll find you fit in more. The better you feel about yourself, the more people will like to be around you. One of life's secrets is that you have to respect yourself first before others will respect you.
After you've become comfortable in your own skin, you may even end up asking yourself later why you ever wanted to fit in with that particular group of people. You'll have moved so far beyond where you are now and see that you have improved so much more than the people you originally wanted to fit in with.
The other benefit of learning to be comfortable in your own skin is that you’ll be more accepting of other people and open to new ideas and concepts too. New and exciting opportunities will become available to you. The same can't be said for those too afraid to be seen as different than everyone else.
You’ll probably also start to find other people who have the same encouraging attitude about life. You’ll be able to go through life enjoying every moment because you’re comfortable with yourself and understand yourself. You’ll be more focused on your experiences, your goals, and the beauty you see around you rather than worrying about the opinions of a few people.
3. Let Go of Past Anger
Sometimes it’s because of past hurts that we repel other people. We’re so angry at people that we can’t relate to anyone or only expect the worst from others. Once I figured out how to let go of my past, I became much more comfortable being me. I found it was easier to get along with other people. Maybe because I didn't care as much what they thought of me but more likely just because I think people are more affected by the "aura" you give off. So, if you're angry all the time, most people will avoid you or you'll end up only attracting other people who are always angry too. Let go of your anger. Or use your anger to tell yourself that you can overcome anything.
4. Focus on Your Wants and Desires
Instead of focusing on the problem that you don’t feel like you fit in, try turning it around and focus on what you do want. What do you want to explore, what goals do you have, what do you want to learn? Ask yourself these questions: • What is your biggest dream?
• What activities would you love to try?
• What places in the world you would you be thrilled to visit?
Then go and do it. There are so many incredible and inspiring things in this world to explore. Focus on the positive and the beauty of the world rather than getting caught up in a negative situation. Answering questions like the ones above will provide you with so much more fulfillment than trying to figure out how to fit in. If you just try to fit in, you’re probably not being true to your real self and you won’t be happy for long even if you do manage to fit in. If you follow your true passion, you'll not only be happy and love being you, you'll also gain the respect of people you never dreamed possible. For some ideas on figuring out what you want to do with your life, read the article, "Try a Life Direction".
5. You’re Not the Only One
It’s very easy to feel like you’re the only one who ever feels this way but I’d be willing to bet that just about everyone on this planet has felt like an outcast at some point in their life. You're definitely not alone in having these feelings. The next time you’re somewhere where you feel like an outsider, take a look around, there is probably at least one other person who feels the same way you do. How about going over there and saying, “Hello”? You just might make a new friend.
The key to handling the situation of “I feel like an outsider” is really all in how you react to that feeling. You can beat yourself up over it or you can become stronger for it. As the biographies of those that have gone through the same feelings show, there can definitely be an advantage to being unique. You truly are special and there is no one else quite like you. You just need to be willing to share the real you with the world.
The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else,
which makes you unique.- Walt Disney
A web site devoted to the subject of feeling like an outsider is Outsiders' Network.