Have you ever had the feeling that you just don’t belong anywhere?
That you are so vastly different to everyone else and don’t fit?
You’re not alone. It’s a feeling that most people have at some point in their lives.
We live in a social world: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Tiktok… So many fabulous platforms for connection that also highlight just how much you don’t fit in.
There’s a reason you are feeling this way. Here are 10 reasons you may be feeling like you don’t belong.
What does it mean to belong?
Belonging is about feeling a connection to others or to a place. Whether it’s friends, work, family, church, or society, finding where you belong is about acceptance.
It allows you to be who you are while being valued by those close to you for being that person.
At the same time, you value those around you and share similar thoughts and interests that connect you.
Where you find this sense of belonging will be different for everyone.
Some people only find themselves connected to one or two other people in life.
Others find themselves connected to entire communities.
When you struggle to find this sense of belonging, the ensuing loneliness that arises can be extremely painful and hard to live with.
If you feel like you don’t belong anywhere, it’s time to look at why this might be and what you can do about it.
I feel like I don’t belong anywhere
If you are feeling like you don’t belong anywhere, from friendship group to work colleagues to family, then here are 10 reasons to help you work out why and decide – what next?
1) You don’t let them in
Firstly, you may need to consider you have found the perfect space where you belong. The problem is simply you.
Do you tend to sit back in your friendship groups and let everyone else do the talking?
Do you ever stop to share important things that are going on in your life?
Do you tell your friends what you are thinking and feeling?
Sometimes these feelings of not belonging come because we don’t open up to our friends. We feel like they don’t understand us. They don’t get us. They don’t know us.
It can be frustrating and upsetting at the same time.
Yet, when you step back to think about it, you may realize that you never gave them the opportunity. You never let them understand you, let them get you, and let them know you.
If you never open up to your friends and share your thoughts and feelings, how can you know whether or not you belong?
Opening up and disclosing personal experiences and concerns can deepen that connection between you and your friends. If you do this with them, then they are also more likely to trust you and confide in you in return.
This deepens the relationship and helps promote that feeling of belonging.
2) You worry too much about what others think of you
It’s time for you to stop worrying about what others think and to care more about what you think.
If you are too focused on what other people say about you, then it can stop you from being yourself.
Whether you are worried people won’t like you, scared you won’t fit in, or concerned about what is being said behind your back, it takes the focus off who you are and who you want to be and molds you into someone you are not.
You will find yourself surrounded by friends who don’t know the real you and these feelings will be perpetuated.
You will then start to worry about what happens if they do discover the real you. Will they like you? Will they leave you? What can you do to make sure they don’t?
If you have all these thoughts running through your head, then it’s time to make some changes.
Pick up some positive mantras:
- I am a great friend.
- I am a kind friend.
- People are lucky to have me as their friend.
When you start to place more value on yourself as a person, it will flow into other areas of your life. You will start to care less (but not stop entirely) about what other people think of you, allowing you to be more true to yourself. In turn, you will find people who value you for who you are.
I Am Still Searching For Connections
At other times, the reason you don’t belong is because you are yet to find your place and your people. There are a number of reasons this might be.
3) You are still discovering yourself
How great would it be to be born knowing exactly who you are and what your purpose in life is. This would make things so much easier! Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works. Instead, you are left to discover and work this out for yourself. And it takes time.
As you do, you may find you have very different views from everyone else out there.
You think differently.
You act differently.
You believe different things.
No-one else you know shares these thoughts or feelings. It is making you feel very alone and isolated.
First of all, it is these differences that set you apart and make you who you are. They should be celebrated.
It is when we try and mold and conform to the beliefs of others that we lose ourselves in the process. So start by giving yourself a mental high five for recognizing these differences and allowing them to be.
Now is your chance to go out into the world and find others who share your view. It might not seem like it right now, but there are others out there like you.
Thankfully, the internet is making it easier than ever to connect with them.
It won’t take you long to find others you connect with and work out where you belong.
4) You need to change your surroundings
Whether you are still living in the same area you grew up. Still frequenting the same places you did growing up. Still, with the same friendship group, you have had since you were kids. It’s time for change.
You may be feeling like you don’t belong, simply because you don’t.
Perhaps you grew up in a very religious neighborhood and no longer share those views?
Or a small town with very narrow-minded opinions and views on life?
Just because all your friends and family around you are happy to accept this status quo, doesn’t mean you need to.
It might be time to get out and explore the world. Move suburbs, towns, or even countries and find new friendship groups and views on life.
A fresh start can be the perfect opportunity to find a place you do belong to.
5) You and your friends are changing
Your friendship group could simply be changing. It happens.
Just because you grew up as BFFs, doesn’t mean you have to stay BFFs. You may find you always have a place for this person or these people in your life, but it may no longer be front and center.
So, what are some signs this might be happening to you?
- You don’t talk to your friends as much as you used to.
- They don’t reach out to you anymore.
- Catch-ups are becoming a chore rather than for fun.
- You no longer confide in each other.
- You have chosen different paths in life.
Instead of trying to rebuild what was, it may be time to accept things have changed and to move on.
Take a look at where you are at in your life: have you started a new job? Moved cities? Started a new degree? Moved out of home? These are all opportunities to find a new group of friends who are in the same life stage as you.
These will be people you can connect with and share common interests with.
By working out where you are at, you can find friends with common goals.
Before long, you will be feeling like you belong once again.
6) You are still searching for ‘your people’
From a young age, we are thrown into the world of friendships.
Making friends at the park with the little girl playing on the swing next to you. Oh how easily friends came back them.
You move onto school and make friends with those in your class. There are only so many to choose from, so you find those who are most like you.
You then form groups with people in social settings outside of school, such as art classes, debating, sports teams, and more. Your friendship group is expanding.
Next, it’s off to University where you are thrust together with people who all share common interests with you.
Do you notice the pattern here? Each step of the way, friendships are forming based on who you are and your interests. Or what stage of your life you are at.
As a person, you are constantly changing and developing. It’s safe to say you may just not have found the right friends yet.
Until you know yourself and understand who you are, it’s almost impossible to find friends who can value and appreciate you for who you are.
Sometimes we are lucky enough that our friends grow and change with us, while still sharing the same values we do.
Other times, we find we still don’t quite belong. In this case, keep the search going. Take some time out to reflect on who you are and what you enjoy. From here, you can go on to find others who share the same interests.
7) You are trying too hard to fit in
You may be feeling like you don’t belong, simply because you don’t. There is no shame in this.
Sometimes, we spend all our time and energy trying so hard to fit in. It ends up having the opposite effect and we feel even more alienated and lonely than before.
Here are some questions you need to ask to discover whether you are being true to yourself:
- Do you enjoy the activities you and your friends do together, or do you pretend to just to fit in?
- Do you find yourself dressing differently when you are around your friends to fit in?
- Do you make up stories and feelings so you can find common ground with your friends?
- Do you hide interests you have that you know your friends won’t like?
If you answered yes to one, or all of these, then it is time to move on.
Step away from this friendship group and take some time to figure out what likes/interests are your own, versus those you told yourself you liked/were interested in just to fit in.
We all like to fit in. There’s no shame in it.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to recognise when you are trying too hard and move on. Go find people you can truly be yourself with. No hiding!
8) You don’t express yourself clearly
The way we dress, speak, act and more are all different ways we express ourselves and who we are.
All these factors can determine how others see us, and in turn, the type of people we attract.
If you keep getting the feeling that you don’t belong, it may be time to consider whether you are attracting the wrong type of people.
Take a look at the friends around you. How do they dress, speak, act? Is it the same as you?
If it is, then you aren’t expressing yourself the right way – since you clearly don’t fit in.
It’s time to take a look in the mirror and make some changes. Be more intentional in your style and the decisions you make each day, such as the type of coffee you drink and the foods you eat. These are all conversation starters.
If you want to get the conversation off on the right foot, then it’s important to express yourself in the right way, to begin with.
9) You want different things in life
Your ambitions and goals may be starkly different from those around you.
Not sharing these goals with those around us can leave us feeling disconnected and disassociated from those we should be close to and connecting with.
Even if you have always felt like you have belonged at every other moment in your life, if your goals or ambitions suddenly change, you can lose that sense of belonging.
It doesn’t mean you don’t have a place for these people in your life anymore. It simply means you need to find others who do share a common goal with you, so you still have somewhere you can feel connected and understood.
If you have recently changed careers, or simply changed the priorities in your life, then it is common for these feelings of disconnectedness to creep in.
Recognize them for what they are: it’s a shift in who you are and what you value. Don’t place the blame of those in your life who no longer understand you. You can’t expect them to change just because you do.
Instead, seek out somewhere you do belong.
10) Your mental health needs addressing
Did you know that almost half (45%) of Australians will experience a mental health issue in their life time?
This is a staggering statistic, made even more concerning by the lack of awareness for these issues and how they can affect people. Turns out, many mental health issues can affect how you feel. They add to your feelings of isolation and loneliness, allowing negative thoughts to creep into your head and affect your relationships with those around you.
Everyone feels lonely from time to time. This is normal.
Long periods of loneliness and isolation can have a negative impact on your health.
Here are some common signs that this feeling of not belonging is taking a toll on you:
- Tiredness and lack of energy
- Body aches and pains
- Sleep problems
- Increased alcohol consumption
- Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
- Suicidal thoughts
If you see yourself in any of these, then it’s time to get professional help. With the right help, you can see yourself past these feelings of isolation and not belonging get the tools you need to deal with your mental illness.
At the end of the day, feeling like you don’t belong is a horrible feeling. No matter who you are, what stage of life you are at, or how many people you have surrounding you, it’s a lonely place to find yourself.
Why do I feel like I don’t fit in?
This can sometimes be a fleeting feeling you experience when you go through something. Whether you have lost someone close to you, or find yourself heading off to University while all your friends are entering the workforce – these circumstances can leave you feeling like you are on the outside. Like you don’t fit in anywhere. No one else can relate to what you are going through.
As humans, we all crave connections. As soon as we lose those essential connections, we can feel very isolated and alone.
Sometimes, these feelings run deeper than just a period in your life.
You may have been experiencing these feelings for a long time now, and find yourself unable to rebuild those essential connections.
In this case, it’s important to seek help. Reach out to a friend, or even a professional to talk it through. Get to the deeper issues and find a way around them to see you out the other side.
There is always a place for you. There is always somewhere you fit in and belong. It’s about finding the right place for you.
What if I don’t have friends?
It’s one thing to feel like you don’t fit in. It’s another thing entirely to feel like you don’t have any friends in the first place. Work out where you stand.
The truth is, if you find you don’t have any friends, it is most likely your own fault. I know, that sounds a bit harsh. But think about it: there are so many people in the world, all forming connections with each other. If you have been unable to connect with any of them, the problem is unlikely to be them.
Don’t take it to heart – you probably didn’t even realize you were sabotaging these relationships.
Instead, make the change.
Take a look at your own life and your own shortcomings. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you just assume others don’t like you?
- Do you stop to give them a chance?
- Are you friendly towards them?
- Do you shut them out?
- Could you be misreading signals others are giving off?
If any of these sound like you, then it’s time to make some changes.
The great news is, by putting in the effort, you can be on your way to finding those lifelong friends you fit in with.
Finding a place where you belong
Take a look at these reasons and work out why you might be feeling this way. What could be contributing to it? By working out your feelings and why they exist, you can find a way out. You can find happiness.
The simple fact is, until you work out who you are, what you want out of life, and know what you are worth, you will never truly find a place that you belong to.
Before you head out in search of where you belong, try working on yourself first and diving into a little self-discovery. By understanding ourselves, it gives us the confidence to go out into the world in search of what we need. It allows us to find where we belong.
You do belong – somewhere. It may just not be where you think.