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I Don’t Feel Like I Fit In | What Does It Mean to Fit In?

layers of me
When I saw this in a shop, it was called Recycled Ruby. I think it’s a cool way of showing the many layers of each of us.

Suppose you are new, or you feel new wherever you are. What does it mean to fit in?

As moms of middle schoolers can probably verify, sixth grade brings waterfalls of tears for many kids. Adults sometimes don’t know what to do about this and can feel deeply concerned about emotional outbursts that occur as suddenly as a summer afternoon thunderstorm.

I can remember what fitting in felt like back in middle school and high school. I saw the popular kids and wanted to feel as well-liked as they looked.

Today, many people probably believe that popularity registers meaningfully in the number of likes on Instagram, Snapchat and other forms of social media (and I would ask if we think we’ve become addicted to this system of reward like drugs, but that’s for another column. I’m interested in hearing from you about this when you get a minute).

Maybe I was feeling left out

Fitting in or feeling left out depends a lot on how we personally interpret our place in any given situation. Look at it this way, if Donald Trump were to worry about fitting in, he might be happier if he crawled into a cave and called it quits. If that were you would you fold, totally crumble, or would you weather the challenges? Talk about conflict and drama!

Lessons from Trump

While serving as president of the United States resides in a place far and away from where we as average people live and work and feel challenged every day, individual struggles are real at every status level.

Remember the book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, which has become a new Netflix series? Beside this point, somewhere, a 35-year-old father of two, who just started a new business venture and feels incredible pressure to perform in his professional and personal circumstances, has just committed suicide and his loved ones are heartbroken; at his funeral, the priest talks about an element of spiritual warfare in the world.

Are we assailed? How do we assail ourselves?

Back to the original problem: fitting in and feeling left out. While it may sound easier said than done, our emotions can sometimes overpower our ability to put the actions of others in their proper place as they directly or indirectly affect us—those times when we feel assailed.

The next time you feel left out, say, “So what!”

How do we assail ourselves? We allow ourselves to internalize the actions of others from the get-go, rather than taking control to intentionally separate the “them” and the “that” from the “me.” Say, “so what!” Maybe if we viewed this separation strategy as an investment toward proving the “I’m Okay—You’re Okay” theory that author Thomas Harris so well covered starting way back in 1969, and we turn the page, we’d do better.

When over a reasonable period of time (emotions aside), we determine “no this is not okay,” “I am not okay, and you are not okay,” and why, we will have enough data to determine that it’s time to make a change—we follow through with action—and we will perform better than we ever performed when our emotions had the upper hand.

Take care,

I Don’t Feel Like I Fit In | What Does It Mean to Fit In?

Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

Cherilynn Veland, MSW, LCSW, is a counselor and coach based in Chicago. She has been helping individuals, couples and families for more than 20 years. She is author of Stop Giving It Away, a book about developing healthier relationships with yourself and others. The Stop Giving It Away movement aims to stop the detrimental level of self-sacrifice in which many women live and work. Winner of the 2015 National Indie Excellence Book Award in the Women's Issues category - Stop Giving It Away.

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APA Reference
, . (2017). I Don’t Feel Like I Fit In | What Does It Mean to Fit In?. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Apr 2017
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