Have you always had the sense that you didn’t fit in? It could be that you felt like you were a bit of an outsider at school—or even in your own family.
Maybe you feel you should have been born during a different time.
Feeling like an outsider isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
It can mean you’re awake to something that the rest of society is asleep to, says one lifestyle expert. It can also mean that your spirit is looking to transcend to another level of awareness.
Hugely successful people like computer wizard Steve Jobs and Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowling have confessed to feeling like outsiders most of their lives.
We love this quote from actor Angelina Jolie back in 2015:
“When I was little, I was told that I was different… I felt out of place, and too loud, too full of fire, never good at sitting still, never good at fitting in…then I realized different is good.”
Here are eight telltale signs your own genetic makeup doesn’t fit the mold.
1) Your ideas are “out there”
When I think of famous people whose ideas were known for being especially eccentric, the late great surrealist painter Spanish Dalí comes to mind.
Dali’s work played with the concept that creativity and “madness” were closely related, and could even be one and the same. He lived his life the same way he created art: unapologetically.
Some of his weirdest and wildest paintings have also been his most iconic: take his 1931 “The Persistence of Memory” for one. The melting clocks have become synonymous with his style
Dalí didn’t mind that his ideas deviated from societal norms. He wore his unconventionality as a badge of honor.
“The Persistence of Memory” is displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City—not bad for an “oddball.”
If you have any “out there” ideas or a “strange” talent, we say embrace it and follow your own bliss.
You never know where your weirdness may lead—it could very well be somewhere wonderful.
2) You march to the beat of your own drum
I have to give this one over to Dalí one more time (can you tell I’m a fan?).
I’ve read his autobiography (if you can call it that: it was kind of a stream of consciousness that sometimes made no rational sense) and one thing I remember is that the artist was always adamant about his ideas and works being absolutely original.
One technique he implemented to achieve this was by loosely holding an object in his hand while snoozing in a chair. Once he fell asleep and the object dropped to the floor and made a loud sound, Dalí would inevitably be startled awake.
Why would he do this?
That “in-between” mental state—that space between being conscious and unconscious—was where he knew the most original and potent of inspiration came from. That moment where he woke up would unlock the key to some of his most avant garde ideas.
He also has what he called a “paranoiac-critical” method. This involved inducing psychotic episodes and hallucinations that would provide imagery for his art.
This helped him let go of the rational, physical world and enter into a new one that was dominated by dreams and subconscious thought.
The point is, the world is always telling us to be realistic, rational, logical, lower our expectations, and all that jazz.
If you’re someone who prefers to tune out the noise of others and just go your own way and do your own thing—well then you’re definitely someone who goes against the grain.
3) You feel like you should have been born in a different era
This one is something I can relate to. When it comes to movies, music, and fashion, I love anything old-school. This for me is mostly sixties and seventies’ stuff. Vintage is a whole vibe. Maybe deep down I’m a hippie at heart.
Perhaps you just can’t relate to the current era because you’re an “old soul” yourself. You love the beauty and simplicity of a bygone era. Even if it’s well before your time, you love the thought of a time when neighbors actually knew each other and you could keep your doors unlocked.
That doesn’t mean you love everything about a particular era. The strict patriarchy perhaps, and the politics probably left a lot to be desired. But there are aspects that you feel you can relate to. Something seems missing to you in this day and age.
4) You rely on your own instincts and intuition
People whose personalities go against the grain don’t need a gab session with their girlfriends and boyfriends to figure out if they should be with someone or give them a second chance. They rely on their own inner compass to show them the direction to take in their life.
They also take jobs that speak to them instead 5of what they should according to family or according to what the labor market is looking for.
These are the people who can be anything from actors and artists to engineers and entrepreneurs—anything that allows them to tap into their own innate uniqueness.
Outsiders tend to rely and trust themselves because this is something they’re accustomed to doing. They know that relationships are transient and that those people aren’t in their shoes, anyway.
5) You’re likely somewhat of a loner and feel somewhat misunderstood
Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has opened up in the past about how she wrote songs while she was in school because she was alone so much of the time.
“I’d sit there in school and I’d be hearing people like, ‘Oh my god, this party that we’re going to is gonna be so awesome on Friday. Everyone’s invited except for [Taylor],” she said.
Many outsiders grow up in an atmosphere of confusion, which, in the maelstrom of family life, can go unnoticed–resulting in them feeling misunderstood, says an expert from wellbeing site Healthista.
“This becomes exacerbated at school, which can result in behavioral issues that, ultimately, further separate them from the pack.”
6) You’re all about independence
Being a social outsider could mean that you don’t rely on other people to do things for you. You’re pretty self-sufficient and proud of yourself for being so.
You also know that you are responsible for your own happiness, so you don’t believe in putting that burden on others.
You also don’t allow yourself to get attached to others—except for maybe a very select few. Even then, you prefer to have your own space and do your own thing.
While this can certainly be liberating, it’s also important to ask for help when we need it.
7) Following fashion fads isn’t for you
Lady Gaga once shared that she was taunted as a teenager because of the way she looked and says she purposely wears clothes that are “out there” so that any of her fans who are also being ridiculed can look to her for inspiration.
“I want to create a space for my fans where they can feel free, and they can celebrate,” she told Ellen DeGeneres in an interview. “I didn’t fit in at high school, I wanted to be like Boy George and I felt like a freak. So I like to create this atmosphere for my fans where they feel like they have a freak in me to hang out with, and they don’t feel alone.”
You might have conventionally “eccentric” tastes in clothes, style, and any other means of self-expression. People probably give you the side eye but you’re okay with that. You’re your own person.
8) You know when people are putting on a show
Outsiders can be often pretty good observers of human behavior. This means that you can usually tell when people are being phony and not forthright.
You find this to be a turn off and wonder why people can’t just be themselves.
You also don’t get the deal with fancy cars and glamorous houses. What’s the need for the show?
Outsiders tend to have a soft spot for those who are struggling and understand suffering. You’d much rather the riches of the world be given to feed the poor and get medical treatment for the sick.
Some inside advice for an outsider:
British writer Colin Wilson presented a theory in his 1956 book The Outsider that suggested how social rejection may be the very thing that fuels our creativity.
This is because being an outsider can lead you to inspiration because you’re not part of the masses and distracted by all the noise.
So get comfortable with being an outsider, says self-proclaimed outsider Marty Nemko. You don’t need to change people’s opinions of you. “Find compatible outsiders,” he says.
“Being an outsider may not mean you’re an introvert. If you’d like to meet kindred spirits, fortunately it’s a big world, real and virtual. Assuming you don’t already know enough kindred spirits, search the internet using terms that make you an outsider,” he continues.
“For example, if you’re a communist, Google ‘communist groups near me’ or search Meetup.org on ‘communist.’ Of course, the same advice pertains if you’re, for example, an intellectual conservative.”
Go with it.