When we feel the words ‘fitting in’, we may feel that they suggest that we are slotting into something … fitting ourselves into something … something that is already prepared: a pre-constructed mould. For you cannot fit something into nothing – it simply would not be ‘fitting in’ to anything then.
If we are not fitting in then we may be standing out and much like the words ‘fitting in’, ‘standing out’ suggests that we are standing out or outside of something.
From as early as I can remember, I could see that there was an opportunity to either fit in or not fit in to the model of life (which would be standing out), a model that said you can act this way but you cannot act that way. In other words, I was aware that the world around me was built upon a model that more or less dictated how it was that we are to be, based upon what is commonly accepted as how we should be in the world … how we dress, how we interact, how we step from one foot to the next in our own personal lives, all being movements directed by this model.
When I was younger, I felt quite connected to a part of me that did not seek to play ball with all of this but instead stayed true to what I felt within. I was not swayed by societal beliefs and felt okay standing out if it meant that I got to dress and express the way I felt to. Later in my life I came to understand this part of me as my inner-essence … the inner-most part of me that is forever untainted by the outside world and always a resource and marker of truth for me to return to. I observed that through my life from childhood to adulthood I seemingly grew further away from this inner-most part of me. Yet, it was not that I actually grew away from it but that I moved to fit in more with everyone else at the places I went to on a day-to-day basis, such as kindergarten or school. By making the movements to fit in I was saying yes to the model I had previously avoided – what was commonly considered as normal.
By saying yes to this model, I was shutting down to what I had previously lived more openly to – the communication from my inner-essence, the part of me that connected me to my Soul and thus, truth. In this shutting down, I then turned to what was outside of me for answers as the model taught me this was where I would find them. It took me many years to discard this notion and re-discover where it was that I was going to find answers to my deepest questions and ponderings – within myself.
I eventually realised that the reason we look outside ourselves for the answers whilst ignoring the wealth of wisdom within us, is because it is the most common lived way – aka the current standard of being human. It is also because it is reflected to us from every angle from the moment we are born: for us to place goals and achievements outside of us, to strive for success outside ourselves, and to find answers through the knowledge that is taught to us through parenting, school, books, documentaries, webinars etc. This is what the model suggests is the way to live and what it asks us to fit into.
When I was younger I expressed in a way that did not hold back my open and honest expression and I was not afraid to share with others how I felt about something. I was unreserved in expressing love and joy with others and did not restrict this expression to family members alone … it was for everyone. I had a real sense of the fact that there was no separation between me and any other person, that although we were not of the same bloodline and had different eye, skin or hair colour, we were all connected. I would say that when I was living and expressing in this way I did not really ‘fit in’ to the model and so instead stood out more, as I lived differently.
The experience I had coming from this true expression, as I grew older, was that it was not accepted by the world because it did not fit the model that most were living, and so to avoid feeling rejection, I moved to contort my being to fit the accepted image. Whether that meant being polite, being nice, doing well in school, being fit, getting high grades, going to university, not being affectionate with anyone other than family or close-friends and partners, there was a multitude of ideals and beliefs that were available to conform to. These are the ideals and beliefs that we allow to control our expression and thus hold us back from expressing who and what we truly are.
It often felt like living in a box when I conformed to this way of being because I felt as though I did not have much room to express my truth and this caused a feeling of compression. What I began to realise though, as I observed the compression and the fact that it made me feel quite miserable, was that although there are many ideals and beliefs that surround us, we do not have to conform to the force (compression) we feel from them. In the instance where we do not conform, we may be deemed to be ‘standing out’ from the model – outside what many have enjoined. Yet the truth is we only stand out because we are not living in the same manner as the majority and so this is not considered the norm.
Why is it that we desire to fit in then?
Is it possible that we are fed via reflections and impositions around us, that if we don’t fit in then we won’t have a good life? Or that if we don’t fit in we will live a lonely life, without friends or the love we crave?
When I was in high school I began to believe this as I felt rejection from those around me. I would feel this rejection most in moments where I was expressing from my inner-heart, the untainted pure essence of me that spoke unreservedly in truth. Although at the time I felt as though they were rejecting me, I came to consider they were possibly sensing a loss of something within themselves. If they were to be open to the expression and reflection offered to them, it would mean re-connecting to this part of themselves that they may have disregarded or dismissed for some time. Feeling this could be uncomfortable, painful even.
However, at the time I was less understanding of this fact and I did feel as though it was me who was being rejected, so I paved a way to fit in more. I changed the way I dressed, what I ate, how I spoke and I started trying different recreational activities that previously I had not agreed with, things like drinking alcohol, trying different ‘party’ drugs and clubbing. By doing all of this I began to feel more ‘normal’ amongst my friends because we were all doing the same thing. When I spent time in my own company I would tune into myself more deeply and be more honest about what I was feeling – that the choices I was making to fit in did not feel so settling. It was in those moments with myself that I felt the discombobulation of changing my way of being in order to fit in and this hurt deeply, so deeply that I went further into behaviours that were on offer around me and outside of me in order to offset the hurt. I tried to band-aid myself with the very same material that had led me to be wounded! I learnt quickly that this did not work very well.
And so, fast forward to the present at age 24, I have returned to the inner-most connection I spoke of earlier to which I felt so strongly aligned when I was younger. Some may say that I don’t fit in and this may be true from the perspective of one living life based upon the more common model. But I know in my heart that the concept of fitting in is yet another ideal from that very same model and one to which I do not need to conform to. Changing myself to avoid feeling the pressure and force of others who themselves are not living who they truly are, hurts more than anything in the world.
Returning to who we are and continuing to deepen this connection is a process of first feeling and uncovering the hurt of leaving our Soul (our connection to our true selves), seeing why we chose to reject this inner-most part of ourselves and naturally reconnecting to what was always there within – a love that loves all equally.
“If we do not allow the inner-most to impulse to us who we truly are, then we are left to be who we are told to be from the outside. THAT IS THE WHOLE PROBLEM WITH THE WORLD! Asking or searching the outer to find the answers and or worse still, to know or find who you are by seeking the outer, that is, what is outside of your inner-most – it is like a wave asking the shore who it is, without feeling the source from which it came, which is the grand ocean. And thus, if the wave recognises the fact that it is impulsed forth by the great ocean as a whole, no identification is needed as the wave will know itself as a GREAT PART of a GREATER WHOLE.”
By Giselle Cavanagh