Never an Outsider

I’ve been thinking about this for a while. The good and bad that social media has brought into our lives. Do you remember the days before Facebook, when you were on your own, living your life without watching the lives of others? How about that enigmatic high school crush who lived in your head until you found him on Facebook and either he a., hasn’t aged very well, or b., has been remarried six times. Best to leave those things to your imagination, isn’t it?

Admitting that social media has allowed us to reconnect with others, opened our world to things we would never have experienced through the experiences of others, and created a forum for us to share our similarities – it has also highlighted our differences, don’t you think?

But here’s a different way of putting it – differences are actually good things. They make life interesting, allow us to grow in perspective and broadens our vantage point. And because we’re so afraid to let others know that sometimes, we’re just not sold on something, we retreat to ourselves, lest we become the outsider.

One way or another, at some point in our lives, we’ve become the outsider.

Sometimes, it’s a point of view we don’t share, a thought we don’t support, or maybe even people who just don’t to want to include us. We don’t have that look, we don’t dress like everyone else, we march to the beat of a different drum. In our book world, it comes in the form of being the unknown among a group of knowns. The uninvited, the unmentioned. The un-commenting, non-committal bystander. In the corporate world, it happens when you don’t agree with a certain point of view or you’re ostracized because you’re not cool enough or savvy enough.  In the working world, there are levels. And the higher up you are, the more you become an outsider.

Either way, you’re on the outside looking in, always on the peripheral, wanting to scratch through the door so they can let you in. But why? Why do we strive so much for acceptance, why do we take it so personally when we don’t jibe with people we think we should, and try to force our way through? Shouldn’t we be confident enough to trust in ourselves when it comes to fitting in?

One of the biggest social influences of our time is conformity. When you’re not part of a group of lemmings who mirror each other’s actions and words, you’re just not part of the clique. And in the days of social media, not jumping on the bandwagon or voicing your opinion about relevant issues makes you tepid, uninvolved and dispassionate. Some of us just don’t like the attention. And aside from not having the time to indulge, most of us are comfortable living our lives moving forward, not backward. Inherent in human nature (and I am a human, so it doesn’t exclude me) is the need for acceptance. And more often than not, a jilted friendship, an un-extended invitation, non-response, lukewarm reception – is more a reflection of the situation and not of you.


The point of all this is that individualism should be celebrated. Whether you’re vocal about issues or you keep things to yourself, it doesn’t mean that you don’t belong. Don’t change your behavior or your points of view just because they aren’t the most popular ones at the moment. Instead, strive to remain honest to yourself and move in that direction. Because when you are comfortable with being who you are, when you’re loved and supported by those who matter, you’re never really an outsider.

You’re just different.

You’re YOU.