In my teen years, I was shy. It was difficult for me to extend myself and make new friends. I remember early on, my mom had a talk with me and encouraged me to be a friend first. I had to stop waiting for others to come to me, and I needed to approach them. At that point in time, I picked a girl that I wanted to be friends with and invited her over. After that first hurdle, we became close friends. I then got to know some of her friends. Through high school, we all became close and are still friends to this day.
But, before any of that happened, I had to take a risk.
Years later, my friend told me she thought it was weird that I asked her to come over. She hardly knew me, but she took a risk and came anyway. I am glad. I would have missed those friendships through a critical developmental time in my life. The risk paid off.
Fast forward several years:
It has always been difficult for me to make new friends. I am naturally an introvert and it doesn’t come naturally for me to extend myself. It takes diligent effort and energy for me to reach out to someone new. I have made huge strides in seeking others out and trying to make new friends, but it doesn’t come easily or naturally.
Several months ago, I tried to approach a woman that I was interested in getting to know. I started asking about her and her interests, and immediately felt shut down. She made it pretty clear that she wasn’t interested in getting to know me. At first, I was hurt and then frustrated. I had approached her out of sincere interest but also because I had noticed she was new and might have needed a friend. Instead, I felt like I got the cold shoulder. The sad thing was that I had heard that she felt she didn’t fit and that no one cared about her. Hmmm.
I felt sad about that interaction and for that woman. Change is always hard, and making new friends and truly feeling a part is a necessary and important part of human interaction. We have had a change recently, and it has made me evaluate this question again: What do you do when you don’t fit in?
I think there are times for each of us when we feel we don’t fit. Cliques, groups, or a new change can leave you feeling a little out of the game. This can happen when you move to a new area, when you start attending a new class or church group. It can happen when you have a life change like getting married, or having a baby, or having your babies go off to college. All of a sudden you are faced with new groups, new people, and change.
Here are some quick tips and helps, from my own experience and from helping others, for when you feel that you don’t fit in:
2. Use positive and open body language.
3. Say hi first.
4. Remember and use first names.
5. Use the power of open-ended questions.
6. Listen…please stop talking about yourself for a minute.
7. Smell nice.
8. Be sincere.
9. Be interested.
10. Use eye contact.
11. Follow up on events you know they were involved in.
12. Bring them cookies.
13. Send a kind note.
14. Give a sincere compliment.
15. Ask them for a small favor.
16. Offer to help them with something.
17. Set boundaries.
18. Stop comparing yourself to others.
19. Put yourself in their shoes.
20. Say a prayer.
21. Attend social functions, even when you feel uncomfortable.
22. Try again.
23. Give it time.
24. Celebrate differences in others. You can learn a lot.
25. Find a good hobby to enjoy.
26. Serve someone else.
27. Take a break from social media. It’s not real life, I promise.
28. Recognize your own strengths and abilities and accept the good you have to offer.
It is a truth that we need one another. Let us not forget:
If you struggle with feeling like you fit in, try some of the above tips. If you see someone new or alone, reach out to them. We all can use practice in kindness. It not only helps others, but makes us better.We can all use practice in kindness. Click To Tweet
There are so many more ways to work on fitting in. I would love to hear what you do when you have felt that way. Leave me a note!
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