Not fitting in. Whether it be feeling out of place at school, different from your peers, or just having unique interests, it is something many of us have faced. We want to stay true to ourselves and celebrate our individuality. But we also want to connect with those around us and find common ground.
Feeling “different” or unique is definitely something I’ve experienced. In fact, as I share in the video below, I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t feel different. But I’ve learned how to both navigate the challenges that come with it, and to fully embrace my individuality.
Here’s my advice on staying true to yourself and celebrating your individuality, while still connecting with others.
Not Fitting In: How to Stay True to You Video
If you’d rather watch this in video form, you can watch it below. I also share some hilarious photos from my childhood just to show you how quirky I really was/am!
Onto the tips!
Appreciate what makes you you.
My first word of advice is to identify and appreciate what makes you unique. Not only does this reinforce your sense of self, but it also prevents you from feeling like you need to change.
What makes you special? Which attributes have shown up time and time again throughout your life? And what themes emerge across different experiences?
Reflect on these and appreciate them for being your secret sauce.
Balance being true to yourself with being open and adaptable to new situations.
While it’s important to stay true to yourself and not compromise on your values and beliefs, there will undoubtedly be new situations that shake things up and push you out of your comfort zone. This may be meeting a new group of people, a stressful circumstance, or something totally different.
At these times, it’s important to be open to trying new things and ultimately growing and learning from these new situations. An example I share in the video is with drinking alcohol. I’m unique from many of my peers in that I don’t like to drink much. But sometimes I’m in situations with a lot of drinking and I don’t want to just go off on my own and miss an opportunity to spend time with people and get to know them better.
One thing I’ve done to adapt is join in with the drinking games but use water instead of alcohol. This way I can still participate in the fun, connect with people, but I don’t have to compromise on my likes and dislikes.
Don’t apologize for who you are.
Once you have the first two pieces of advice under your belt, this will feel far easier to tackle. Don’t apologize for who you are or for what makes you unique.
Just because you’re different in some way doesn’t mean you’re inferior. And your confidence in yourself may very well inspire others to own their uniqueness too.
Find ways for your uniqueness to work for you.
If you experience anxiety about being different, try to plan for situations in advance. By that I mean to look ahead at situations that cause you concern and brainstorm ways you can navigate them.
Recognize that you’re going to have to go outside your comfort zone and be ready for those circumstances.
Use your self awareness to decide where to focus.
Based on this knowledge of yourself, decide where you should be focusing your time. For example, do you have a particular quirk that relates to a passion of yours? Maybe you can turn that into a business! Do you have a skillset that lends itself well to a side hustle you’ve been considering? Pursue it. Have you always wanted to take a particular course or class due to a unique interest of yours? Jump in!
This is all about using your sense of self to guide yourself in the areas that feel good and also cater to your uniqueness.
I really hope this helps in terms of giving you a sense of the power of your uniqueness. I want you to stop seeing it as a negative, challenge or isolator. And instead look at ways to make it work for you. At the end of the day there’s only one you. Your uniqueness is your power. And it’s something you shouldn’t be doing anything less than celebrating.
Let me know – have you every felt “different” or out of place? How have you used your individuality as a tool?