Can you remember times in your adult life where you may have felt pressured to fit in with other people around you?
Do you ever oblige with fitting in, only to regret it later? Do you ever hear a little voice inside that just doesn’t feel right about what may be happening, or what others may be doing? Or maybe it’s not even that it doesn’t feel right, but you simply have a different opinion, idea, or feeling than the predominant ones of others around you.
I sense so much that so many of us feel pressured at times to do things in order to fit in with others around us, or with what society says we “should” do. Parents may feel pressured to involve their kids in a ton of activities. Women in general may feel pressured to look a certain way, be a certain size, or have as many clothes or accessories as others they see or know. Young adults may feel pressured to get into the “greatest” schools, or to know exactly what they want out of their lives. We may feel pressured to take on more than we can feasibly handle at our jobs in order to fit in with a particular corporate culture.
How do you reconcile that little voice you may hear with the pressure you might feel to fit in? Do you sacrifice your ideas, your time, or yourself and maybe end up feeling not so great? Do you say anything? Do you decide not to go along with the group if it doesn’t feel right?
I don’t know about you, but I know that I’ve had this inner conflict happen so many times in my life, and it has been something I struggled with for years. There have been countless situations where I’ve felt like the “different” one, the new girl, the one who doesn’t think or act like others do. And in saying this, I’m not trying to insinuate that I feel like I’ve been either better or worse than anyone I have been around. I’ve just been different. Just like apples and oranges are different. No judgment attached. :)
I’ve thought for hours, probably days, about this conflict because I’ve been confronted with it so much. I’ve done so much personal research, so much observing, and so much reflection. And here’s my current take on it—which is subject to change at any time! ;)
We humans are overall very tribal creatures. We have been this way for millions of years. For much of that time, being in tribal groups has been necessary for our very survival here on this planet. We needed to work together and to share resources in order to find adequate food and shelter.
We couldn’t afford not to be connected to our tribes, such as our family, friends, and surrounding communities, in order to literally survive. If we stepped away from our tribes to try to do our own thing, or if we had a very different idea for surviving than what the majority consensus was, we would often be left to fend for ourselves. And fending for ourselves often led to disastrous and very likely fatal consequences.
I really believe that some of these tribal principles and experiences are still so deeply ingrained in our minds, as individuals and in societies. It can be really scary to feel like or to be the only one out of a group of people that thinks, feels, or acts a certain way. That very primal feeling of the possible negative consequences of being alone, or being cast out of our group if we don’t go along with them, might arise in a huge way. So how do we get past this if we still want to honor ourselves?
Have you ever wondered what might happen if your worst fears about all of this came true?
What if you didn’t try to fit in? What if you spoke up and were the odd one out? What if you chose to live differently than how some of your family, your friends, or even society chose to live? And......what if your “tribes” didn’t like it?
What if others laughed at you? What if they rejected you? What if you ended up in a lot of conflict? And then, what if they moved on without you? Or what if you decided to move on without them?
Here’s what could happen.....and I’m not going to sugar-coat this, so be prepared. :) But keep reading along—it gets better. ;)
You might be different from others. Maybe even very different. That can feel really, super awkward. Believe me, I’ve been there!
But...even if you feel different, the way you are can feel good to you, especially if it’s real and truthful for you, no matter what anyone else may say.
You might feel like you’re dishonoring your tribes. You might actually feel ashamed, like you did something horrible by being different. Yep, I’ve been there too. And I totally get that those aren’t pleasant feelings, by any means.
But...you’re honoring yourself. And isn’t there something—no, an extraordinary amount—to be said for honoring yourself and your truths, no matter what?
You might have even separated from your tribes. That can really, really hurt, especially if you have been with them for a long time, or if you did something a certain way for a long time. And yes, I’ve definitely been there.
But....you still have yourself. And as far as I currently know, you will always have yourself for the entirety of this earth journey. ;)
Here’s the amazing thing—you can’t be physically separated from yourself. You are always with yourself. But that may not feel amazing—it may actually feel terrifying. It may feel that way because society often teaches us to focus on everything but ourselves, and when we consider focusing on ourselves, we don’t even have a map to work with!
But I can guarantee you—if you’re anything like me, and you likely are in many ways, fellow wonderful human, then you’re worth your own efforts to focus on and to get to know better. :)
Whew. Now, after all of that heavy stuff, let me tell you a happy, bright, wonderful little secret. :) The sun still shines on this side.
Yep, even if all of our worst fears about not fitting in and being rejected come true, the sun still shines! It’s true. I’ve seen it! The rain still rains. The flowers still grow. Beauty still exists, food and shelter are still available, and the birds still sing.
Do you see why it can be so hard for us to choose ourselves and our own ways over the ways of others or society? It’s really hard! And some of the consequences at first can seem devastating. At first. And sometimes, depending on the circumstances, even for awhile.
You can realize you’ve been true to yourself. Wow! What a stand you took in your own favor! Do you even have any idea of how amazing that is to do as a human being, when we are so pulled to fit in?! Let me tell you—it’s amazing. It’s courageous and rare.
You can also realize that you’ve made some changes, and over time, they actually have made you feel better, and happier, and more peaceful in your life!
And you can start to realize how truly wondrous you really are as a miracle of a being, here, living this one life as you, during this particular time in the history of humankind.
(That last one’s a wonderfully loaded statement, so I’ll give you a little extra space to take that in. Literally and figuratively.) :)
So, to answer the original question, how can you really balance fitting in and honoring yourself? Here’s what I’ve found:
You choose yourself first.
Even though it may be hard at first, you choose to fit in with yourself. You choose to love yourself, to be true to yourself. And you let others fit in around you. Or, since there are over 7 billion people on this planet currently, you find others that are really like you, and you fit in with them. Believe me, they are out there. And you can choose them not just simply because you’ve happened to know them for years or you happen to be related, although they can certainly be in those groups also. But regardless, people who are really like you. Like your true self—that one who, over time, you’ve gotten to know, have come to like, be honest with, and honor. And it's that self which is always capable of growing into deeper, more expanded versions each and every day.
Why? Because you are worth it. And aren’t we all?
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Also, feel free to leave a comment below. Let me know: How have you experienced fitting in or not fitting in with others? How do you honor yourself? You never know who may be inspired by what you share.
Want to get to know yourself even better so you can honor more deeply who you really are? Check out my first book right here--it may be a great resource to help you do just that. :)
No matter what, always remember this: You are deserving, you are worthy, and you are good enough. Keep being you, keep shining, and keep growing!
With great love,