The Loneliness That Comes with Not Fitting In
I’ve spent my whole life feeling like I don’t fit in. When I was thirteen I started a zine called Broccoli (okay, I only got round to designing the front cover). It was going to be all about the experiences of growing up a misfit and not feeling like I fit in.
In high school I was bullied about everything, from laugh to the Doc Martens I rocked (I think I was way ahead of the time). I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb, I stuck out like a dislocated arm.
Sometimes I welcomed the terms freak and misfit like a warm hug, and sometimes I would have given my left tit to fit in. I had friends, but they didn’t get me, not really. They weren’t creative, they didn’t seem to feel things as deeply as I did, and were much happier gossiping about boys and the latest trends in H&M whereas I would be happier doodling and listening to music for the rest of my life.
While everyone was looking up to Melissa from the OC for inspiration, I was idolising the character Sky Mangel, a blue haired teenage girl from the Australian soap Neighbours.
Going to college was the closest I came to feeling like I fit in because I turned my back on everything that was familiar and refused to go to the college built into my high school. College was made up of misfits and people like me, grappling with their struggles and just trying to make it through to the other side, whatever that was. But while I felt like I fit in through circumstance, I didn’t feel much more understood.
I went to university and I really didn’t fit in. I didn’t fit in in my first job. I didn’t fit in when I moved to London and I still don’t. I’ve found the bigger the city the lonelier it can feel. I certainly didn’t fit in when I spent 3 months backpacking around America. And I still don’t.
I’ve spent my whole life not feeling like I fit in, and as I’ve grown and the years have gone by, my reasons for not fitting in list have grown with me.
I’ve been with Mr. Meg for coming on 14 years, I’m not a huge drinker, I’m fat, I don’t have a 9-5 job and hate everything about the rat race, I don’t give a shit about fashion and I’m always putting my foot in my mouth. I struggle with anxiety and way over think conversations, and my OCD can look pretty odd sometimes. I can’t keep my mouth shut when I feel passionately about something, I overshare, I say it like it is and I’m very chirpy.
And on one hand I would never have it any other way because I couldn’t conform if I tried, but I can’t escape the fact that sometimes it can feel so lonely.
I’m feel really lucky to have found my people online. Through The Couragemakers Podcast, I’ve found my people, through this blog, through my weekly emails and through the magic of Twitter. It took a long time to find my tribe and often I felt like I never would, but it happened.
But that doesn’t mean that day to day the loneliness goes away. Sometimes it comes to the surface, but more often that not, it’s something that I’ve come to be with for such a long time that it’s like a humming in the background.
If you have the same humming in the background, I want to tell you that you’re not alone.
Even though sometimes you feel like no one gets you and you feel completely on your own, you’re not. There are so many of us who feel the same way, some for the same reasons and others for entirely different reasons.
It's okay to not want the things you're supposed to want. It's okay to have a completely different idea of fun than everyone around you. It's okay to want to have a different lifestyle, a different identity and different hobbies than everyone around you. It’s okay to have different values, different outlooks and a different way of being.
Scratch that. It’s not okay (and if you started singing the My Chemical Romance song in your head, we need to be friends). It’s fucking brilliant.
Your quirks, your weirdness, the way you do things is what sets you apart.
And the world needs you exactly as you are. There’s no one out there like you and no one who can bring to the world exactly what you do in the way that you do it.
Here’s the thing that I go back to. There are so many things I wouldn’t have done if I felt like I fit in. I would never have started this blog or The Couragemakers Podcast for one. I never would have sought out the things that make me happy, like laughter yoga, performance poetry, forest bathing, I wouldn’t have found Mr. Meg (we were e-pals back in the 2000s and found each other through our joint not fitting in and love of emo music), I wouldn’t have honed my skills and talents like I did.
And there are things and experiences you would never have had if you fit in. If you conformed, you would have had to give up so many of the things that make you you, and wouldn’t be two-thirds of the person you are today. Your difference is what sets the world on fire.
And you’re so much stronger than you think because of it. You can’t get through years of feeling like you don’t fit in without being strong and standing up for yourself. Even if that’s just in your head.
But we need to start talking about the loneliness that comes with feeling like we don’t fit in.
We need to start sharing our experiences. Of course, some of them make us feel ashamed, some of them make us feel lame (like the voice I’ve had through writing this telling me not to hit the publish button), but it’s really damn important.
Because so many of us think we’re feeling this alone. So many of us are struggling with similar things thinking we’re completely on our own and nobody gets it.
But trust me, I get it. And so many others do as well.
So let’s shine light on the loneliness and band together in standing out.
What’s your experience? Comment below and let’s get this conversation started!