A common side effect I’ve noticed that comes with being human is that we all want to “fit in”. We may deny it and will boast about being so unique we don’t fit in anywhere and that’s okay. We may cherish our independence and celebrate our resourcefulness, creating a story that we tell ourselves about not needing anyone. In spite of all the contrary reasons that many may use to dispute this claim, I believe the desire to “fit in” is so strong, we come out of the womb, checking out the world around us for where we can be the best fit.
I have noticed in my work with youth that the need to fit in is especially profound. There are groups, cliques, clubs and sports that offer children the opportunity to be a part of something where their fit is guaranteed. Unfortunately, fitting in at this stage of life, can be pretty tenuous and uncertain. For instance, whether or not you are determined to be accepted in a group is dependent on the say-so of others. You must be evaluated and sometimes even tested or voted in to qualify. The criteria may not always be objective, in fact, it is usually quite subjective. Our true potential or our wonderful unique gifts may not be seen and therefore a lack of fairness in deciding who fits where, is often the result.
When we grow up to be adults, we may say it’s great to be past those times of our youth where fitting in was so important, yet we still seek to be within a circle of friends that match us. We want to be included in the water cooler conversations at work, invited to parties, asked to be on committees etc., giving us a confirmation that we are part of something larger than ourselves. We want to know we matter.
Regardless of our age, if we don’t believe we fit in somewhere. . . anywhere, the outcome can be devastating. In other words, we, in our human experience of making our way through life, can come to believe that it is our fitting in that actually defines us. Many of us actually use our work titles or our degree of education to define ourselves. There are huge conferences and conventions where you can mix, mingle and fit in with others from your group from all around the world, confirming you fit in. Of course you may need to pay dues to be a part of some groups, but the price is usually worth it.
To be thorough in this examination of fitting in, it must also be noted that we often judge others as not being a fit. It is quite common in our human experience to evaluate each other, looking for attributes, a certain look, personality, education or social history before agreeing to welcome others into our fold. The tricky part of fitting in, whether it involves ourselves or others, is that there is always the risk of not being a fit, and worse yet to not have a single group, club or organization where we feel like we belong.
When I consider this subject of fitting in, I have found a way to be at peace with it. My peace comes from believing no one is separate to begin with. We are all one. Different colors, languages, cultures, habits, lifestyles and viewpoints are not enough to make us separate. On a spiritual level, which is the level I play most of the time, we all have a purpose and we are meant to fit together, like puzzle pieces creating the perfect picture of harmony. Each human puzzle piece is different from the rest, but the puzzle is not complete if even one piece is missing.
So the next time you feel like you’re being left out or that you don’t fit in, take a breath, remembering the big puzzle of this world needs you. Don’t be that piece that falls on the floor and blends in with the carpet. You fit in. You always have and always will.