For alot of my life I have struggled with ‘fitting in’, feeling like an outsider. I used to dread being in a new environment feeling like I was stuck in the shadows whilst the ‘in-crowd’ chatted together totally unaware of my presence… bringing me right back to my experiences with ‘fitting in’ at school. I would feel worry and sadness feeling negative thoughts things like I wasn’t good enough. I’m sure many of you can relate to those feelings yourself… so as time went on I gave myself the label of being an outcast.
Growing up with the lessons that life has so far given me I have learnt alot. I have come to a realisation that it’s so easy and quick to give yourself a label of who you think you are and at the time you may think the label that you have given yourself is reasonable but life is ever changing and you are too. When you give yourself a label that you call yourself in your head it is basically attaching yourself to a description of who you think you are. It’s putting yourself in a box to try and define who you are. We don’t just do this to ourselves but we do this to others too sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. The labels and thoughts that we whisper to ourselves can have a big influence and impact on our self-concept and can even dictate our direction of actions and thoughts.
Looking back in a fresh and non judgemental way the label that I had given myself of feeling like an outcast and always the ‘outsider’ restricted my potential by keeping me confined to that negative label. Because I would find myself in situations where I would feel like the ‘outsider’ and I kept telling myself that I was then I believed it and my actions and thoughts became even more like an ‘outsider’ view. All of this led to me feeling unhappy and frustrated… I would think why can’t I just fit in and be normal? Why don’t people like me or want to get to know me? But looking back most likely my own thoughts caused most of these feelings. Being an ‘outsider’ is the story that I had told myself.
Like in so many areas of life the one thing we can control is our response to situations. I once heard this amazing quote by Eleanor Roosevelt – “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” This quote opened my eyes to seeing that the only person making me feel like an outsider was me. From my experience these are the lessons that I have learnt along the way and would love to share with you all, in the hope that they may help someone out there who feels the same or similar. I still have a long way to go until I have fully let go of my own labelling (after all it’s not a quick overnight fix but instead a journey) however, with each day that goes by I am making more and more progress.
- Reflect – Our belief system tells us that we don’t fit in. We end up replaying our stories from childhood experiences up to the present and now is the time to rewrite our script. Start to notice your patterns of behaviour. For my own feelings I reflected on; What fears was I projecting onto myself? At what times was I assuming that I’d be on my own and the ‘outcast’? Self reflection can give you a much needed different outlook. “Examine the labels you apply to yourself. Every label is a boundary or limit you will not let yourself cross.”
- Practice Self Acceptance – Remind yourself that it’s OK and totally fine to have a different way of operating in the world. Remember that you are also not alone too as we all feel a little lost and uncomfortable sometimes – you are never the only one.
- Connect With The People That Get You – Starting anywhere new can sometimes be daunting and overwhelming but you just need to give it time to find the people that get you. If you feel shy then don’t just charge straight into friendships, it’s totally okay to take your time and figure out if you’re the right fit for eachother. Have faith that you will eventually find the right people for you.
- Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone – Each day try and do one thing that takes you out of your comfort zone. (It can be even the smallest of things.) Perhaps try volunteering, it can help you to feel connected and gives a sense of belonging. Even interactions with strangers like a smile when passing by or a pleasant conversation can help you too feel more confident in your other relationships. I personally find that on my dog walks interacting with other dog walkers boosts my own confidence in more social situations and it’s great because both being dog lovers it’s very easy to start up a conversation know that we have something in common already!
I genuinely hope that my post will help you in whatever similar situation you find yourself in or feeling and always remember that you are NEVER alone!
“Keep no labels for yourself. Recreate yourself daily.”