Feel Like You Don’t Fit In? Learning To Celebrate Your Secret Self
Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like an outsider. Like you don’t quite fit in.
Maybe you’re carrying a certain sadness that sets you apart from the places that other people seem to inhabit right now. Or maybe you doubt your worth or your ability to contribute sometimes. Maybe you just feel “different.” Or even “weird.” Or that your values or the way you want to live your life aren’t quite what society currently sees as “normal.”
Feeling a bit out of step with the people around you – your family or work colleagues or friends – is often tough. One theory suggests there are two opposing “life forces” we balance inside ourselves: the “force of individuality” and the “force of togetherness.” Individuality is about our uniqueness, while togetherness is thought to heighten our sense of safety and survival in a group.
So it can be tempting trade self for safety sometimes. To hide your points of difference and gloss over them. To keep the surface calm so that no-one else’s boat is rocked. To muffle the parts of you that would sing a different tune. To shrink yourself to make the anxiety smaller, too. (All of which usually just means that you get to keep all the dissonance inside you, instead of sharing it around).
What if there was another way?
What would it mean to you if you could actually let yourself out some more? Let yourself relax some more. Just to be sometimes…and find out who that person is today.
How might it feel if you could stop worrying quite so much about what others think – or at least what you imagine they think – and focus a little more on what you think of who you’re being today. Who you’re becoming. Who you’re growing into…
For whatever else we’re doing, it seems we’re all growing. Perhaps sometimes we’re growing stagnant, or growing more fixed in our ways, or growing in certain directions (and not others) to accommodate other people or ideals, but we’re growing nonetheless.
Until the time comes when we can grow no more. For our time in this particular garden, in this particular life, seems pretty limited. And that matters when it comes to deciding how you want to live.
So what do you want to let grow in your life? How well you can mimic being someone else entirely? How proficient you’re becoming in denying parts of yourself so you blend in nicely with someone else’s idea of a “good” life? A “good” person? A “good” career?
Or do you want to allow a sense of courage to germinate, so you can gradually show your own true colours – even if (like the Jacaranda tree in the photo) they’re sometimes purple when so many others’ are green?
What if you could let your secret self be seen. Be celebrated, even. Be recognised by others who share a similar vision or a similar passion or a similar way of being.
What if, by letting yourself out there a bit more, you actually also allow yourself the chance to belong – with other people, other groups, who really get you and the things you value? What if showing your colours a bit helps you find your tribe. Where you really fit in. (And how are they supposed to recognise you if you’re pretending to be someone else anyway?)
It’s certainly something to think about in this garden of possibilities…
Photo and text copyright: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2011). Feel Like You Don’t Fit In? Learning To Celebrate Your Secret Self. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 3, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapist-within/2011/12/feel-like-you-dont-fit-in-learning-to-celebrate-your-secret-self-help-therapy/