Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fitting In...Or Not

Ever since I was a little kid, I've felt like I was on the outside looking in. While I was growing up, much of what the people around me felt was important--the "right" clothes, the "right" hair, being part of the "right" group--all bewildered me no end, and still does. I find it very hard to relate to this culture's value system, and now, as an adult, I have realized that I will probably never find a place where I really fit in. And I have to wonder if perhaps this is the source of the anxiety that has dogged me as far back as I can remember.

Oh, I've found a few like-minded travelers in my journey. My husband, for one, and a few dear friends that have come and gone through the years, but for the most part, people and what they want out of life are so hard for me to understand.

I often wonder why this is so. Is it part of whatever anomaly made me chemically sensitive and prone to mood swings? Is it because of my experiences of alienation as a child, having been brought to America and dumped into a world where everything that was familiar to me was gone? Is it because of the way I was raised? But my brother doesn't seem to have had any problems taking this culture's value system to heart.

Saying I don't belong here, of course, begs the question, well, where do you think you would fit in? Honestly, I don't know. I often think that perhaps I would do better in a place (or perhaps a time!) where people live in tune with the rhythms of the earth. Where time moves slowly through the turning of the seasons, and my days would be set out according to the seasons' demands rather than the siren song of the holy dollar.

I guess the best I can do is try to find peace within myself...but I find it sad that I have never found my "herd", never felt like I truly belonged.

Although I must note that since I started blogging, I seem to have found more individuals who think like me than I have ever found in real life!

Writing Prompt: Belonging seems to be an important human need. Where do you think you belong? Are you content with where you are now, or do you find yourself wishing you belonged somewhere or somewhen else? What are the consequences to you of not feeling a sense of belonging?

14 comments:

totalblue said...

I remember, as a child, feeling that there was clearly something I didn't get! Even my first day at school, I remember (I do, really!) standing by a sandpit and feeling all the other children knew each other already. Who knows where that came from! But perhaps there is something in there of not being a "group" person. And yes, the standing on the outside looking in. But at this point, I realise that that is who I am, like it or not. And most of my good friends are one-offs who prefer to follow their own path and carve their own identity. Perhaps people like us, just think too much. The "herd" of thinkers! Doesn't make life easier, necessarily, but maybe gives it more meaning?

Jazz said...

Totalblue--
Yes, I think you're right on that. The "herd" of thinkers. No, it doesn't make life easier, that's for sure! Sometimes I feel like it would be a whole lot easier to just slip into the mainstream and be content with acquiring Stuff and aspiring to be just like everyone else. But that's just not who I am.

And I think it does give life more meaning...because in a sense, you have to search for your own purpose and your own goals, rather than taking on the mantle of what society says you should want.

Hannah said...

I can't fit in, no matter how hard I have tried to follow the rest, and believe me I have tried, somehow it just doesn't work for me. I always stick out, and maybe there is a value in that, but it really is lonely.

Gianna said...

I've never fit in either!! And I'm glad not to. (though it was hard when I was young) I have no interest in fitting into the mainstream of American. I find mainstream values repulsive.

I have enough friends and my husband to feel that I'm not messed up...I believe society is messed up.

Here's to being who we really are instead of what society wants us to be...

Jazz said...

Hannah--
I think that's one of the hardest things about not fitting in...it does get lonely!

Jazz said...

Gianna--
I also find mainstream values repulsive. Society is messed up, in a big way. Agreed--Here's to being who we really are...and being proud of that!

Coco said...

My sentiments exactly. I've always felt like an outsider. That somehow other people, whether they be classmates, workmates, social gatherings etc. knew something that I didn't. It hurt a lot growing up and into my 20's. Very very lonely. Now at 40 I think I'm finally getting over that feeling and starting to realize that it's been a matter of low self esteem, and that really, I don't want to fit in with most people anyway! I think one big mistake I've made is putting people up on pedestals and thinking that I have this huge high standard to live up to that simply wasn't realistic. People aren't as 'together' as I thought they were. I still maintain high standards for myself, but now it's for me, not for anyone else. And I have a more realistic vision of other people in general. Thanks for making me think about this... I miss reading and commenting and posting as much as I used to, Jazz, make it all slow down! :)

Jazz said...

Oh, Coco, I know, it goes too fast when we get busy, doesn't it? You just show up when you can and don't feel bad about it!

I know what you mean about thinking everyone else had it together, and then realizing later that they were just muddling through, just like you were.

I don't think most people are nearly as "together" as they appear!

Marissa Miller said...

Wow, Jazz. This post really strikes a chord with me. I don't feel as though I belong anywhere. I never feel as though I "fit in." Usually I end up resorting to the thought that I'll never "fit in" and the best way to resolve that issue is to "off" myself.

Jazz said...

Alternatively, Marissa, you could decide that it's the rest of the world that's whacked, and go about setting a good example for them...eventually they'll figure it out, you know!

Marissa Miller said...

Hey Jazz,
I don't mean to get all negative but sometimes it's discouraging. I even have social anxiety at my current job because I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't go to bars... I'm just a complete anomaly. At church, there aren't really women who share any of my interests (eg, video games and secular/CCM music) and I force myself to like theirs (eg, scrapbooking, cross-stitching). And then I'm one of the few couples at our church who don't have kids...

Anyway, it's not so much the rest of the world as it is me.

Jazz said...

Marissa--
I think it's harder to deal with not fitting in if you are a social person at heart. I am not really very social. I don't enjoy gatherings, I don't like crowds. I prefer to have just one or two close friends to concentrate on. But having said that, there have been long periods of my life--years--when I've had no close friends because it's so hard for me to get out there and make friends. And that's when the not fitting in feels the hardest, because it's so hard for me to find people who I click with, people who have interests I can actually relate to. I hear you about pretending to be interested in cross stitch and scrapbooking..I tried those for a while cuz I thought it might help me find friends...but my heart really wasn't in it. I do make quilts, but I just quit going to the quilters guild I was in, because most of them are very traditional quilters (I like abstract, flowing sorts of things more, and experimental stuff), and they are all a lot older than me, and I just feel like they are all from a different planet than me. (Of course, I feel that way about most people, so maybe I'm doomed.) It's lucky for me that I'm a solitary beast for the most part. I don't mind going for days without seeing anyone but hubby and kids...which is a good thing, because that's often how it is! It makes the whole social anxiety thing easier to bear, too.

It's too bad we don't live closer (you're not anywhere near Minneapolis, are you?). I adore video games. I'm trying to fight off an addiction to Oblivion on the PS3 right now!

Marissa Miller said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Jazz. I suppose I am a bit of a social creature. I like my days of isolation but getting out 2-3 days a week seems to suffice. I'd like nothing more than to work at a job without coworkers! :)

No... I don't live near Minneapolis. But I have friends that do! (Yeah, that doesn't help.) :P Why must I find all the cool people online? lol.

My in-laws just gave us a Wii and we're enjoying that. We're waiting for the price on the PS3 to drop a bit more before we get it. My husband has a 360 and he usurps it with Call of Duty 4 all the time. I'm waiting for the Mortal Kombat vs. DC characters game to come out. Remember Mortal Kombat?

*ends Sega Genesis-era geekery*

P.S. I've been trying to post this all night but blogger's comment thingy sucks.

Jazz said...

Why must I find all the cool people online?

I totally agree!
And I also agree about finding a job without coworkers...that would be the ultimate!

I remember the first Mortal Kombat that came out...a long time ago...boy, I feel old now! We have all our old game systems in the basement (my geeky hubby can't bear to throw anything electronic away...he's still got all his 5 1/4 inch floppies down there somewhere, too!), and most of them still work, amazingly enough!

PS3 is awesome, and Oblivion is totally addicting...tho I imagine the 360 is pretty cool, too (You can play Oblivion on that one, too, can't you?). Hubby never got into the 360 cuz he's more into RPGs, and they just never seem to have that many for xbox.

I was trying to post a reply all evening, too, and I finally just gave up! I have no patience with misbehaving technology.