It’s a universal fact that we all want to be liked. Human are animals- we like to have our packs, the people who back us up and stick with us when things get tough. But finding that pack can be difficult, and sometimes we feel that all we want to do is fit in. It’s not wrong to not want to stick out in a crowd (it’s human nature after all), but it does become a problem if you’re changing yourself in order to be liked by others.
Fitting in is not about getting other people to like you no matter what the cost- it’s about finding the people who accept you for who you are, and fitting comfortably with them, with your natural differences complimenting each other and bringing out the best in everyone. Fitting in is not about being the same, it’s about celebrating difference, and not shaming anyone or expecting anyone to change so that they fit in.
Wanting to fit in usually comes from starting somewhere new or feeling as though you need other people to validate who you are in order for you to be happy and accept yourself. But here’s the thing- you don’t need other people’s approval to be happy. You don’t need to fit in with others in order to like yourself. It’s a lot lonelier to be around people who don’t love you for exactly who you are than it is to be around no-one at all. Whether you fit in or not is irrelevant to how happy you can be- people who seem to fit in perfectly with those around them are not necessarily happy, and the people who seem to not fit in at all aren’t necessarily unhappy. Whatever the situation is, it’s not a case of you needing to change yourself in order to fit in with other people- it’s a case of finding the people who make you feel as though you don’t even have to fit in at all.
Feeling as though you don’t fit in is difficult, and it can feel lonely, but not fitting in is never your fault. It is never that there is a problem with you, or that you need to change, or that you are ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’ for people. The people who you are trying to fit in with are simply not the right fit for you. You shouldn’t have to fit yourself into someone else’s predetermined mould of what is acceptable, and if you feel like you’re doing that, take a step back and ask yourself some questions.
1. Are you happy?
2. Are your wants and needs being met?
3. Do you find yourself doing things you don’t want to do?
4. Are you healthy and participating in healthy behaviours?
Trying to fit in can make you feel as though you don’t know the real you anymore, especially if you’ve been trying to fit in for a long time. Think about who are you when you’re by yourself, when you’re playing with your pets, or whoever you are when you’re not trying to make other people happy. Whoever that person is, they deserve to be around people who love and celebrate them for who they are- people who don’t have a mould already sculpted for you to try and shape yourself into. People who are the right fit for you will gently shape you into being the best possible version of yourself, and that’s what good friends do naturally, without even trying.
Whatever situation you are in, Off the Record is here to provide listening support and counselling services to young people in BANES who need it. You can refer yourself to these services here.
Jayme, Student Placement LGBT+ Youth Worker