Article written by: Alicia, a youth minister in the Eparchy of Edmonton.
It’s a question that we have all had to face at some point. Regardless of who you are or what your social status is, not fitting into a social group is likely a universal experience. So, I would like to propose a new question: What can I do when I don’t fit in?
Here are some ideas:
1. Ask yourself if this is a group you truly want to fit into.
Often times, the people that we regularly surround ourselves with are the people who influence our identities the most. Look at the group you want to fit into and see if these are people you want to be like. What are their values? How do they spend their time?
There is a difference between having a healthy diversity of opinions and personalities in a group, and having variation in ways they talk about and treat other people (or even themselves). Trust yourself to know the difference, or ask for an outside opinion from a person you know will be honest with you.
2. Make a choice
Which of course, is easier said than done. If you are not fitting into a group and they do not seem like the type of people you want to become, then it might be a good decision to put up some healthy boundaries and limit the time you spend with them.
This is one thing with a group of friends or co-workers, but a whole other issue when you are not fitting into your family or church community. These are people that will be in your life and a part of your story no matter what, which might require a different approach depending on your specific situation.
3. Know that Jesus didn’t fit in either.
You might not have thought before just how much Jesus didn’t fit into greater society. From birth, no one would allow Jesus’ family to take shelter in their dwellings and Jesus was therefore born in a stable with animals. Even more, you might say that Jesus was an OG rebel when it came to who He spent time with. He hung out with and ministered to the poorest of the poor, despised tax collectors, lepers that people thought of as unclean, Samaritans that were at odds with Jews. Yes, of course, all for a purpose – their conversion and healing! Jesus wasn’t down and out because He wasn’t being socially accepted – He was down and out because people were not receiving His teachings. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life – He doesn’t need to fit in anywhere.
The point of this is that even though greater society didn’t accept Him and ultimately condemned Him to death, the people on the fringes of society that Jesus mattered to most had deep undying love for Him. This love was so deep that it spread in the hearts and minds of people across the world. Ask Jesus for relationships that will provide this kind of love and acceptance, and he will provide. Maybe also try reaching out to people on the fringes too, and welcome them in.
4. Know your own worth.
You are beautifully and wonderfully made – a person intentionally designed by God and born in a specific time period, place, and social setting. On days 1 to 5 of creation, God created water, land, the moon, and stars and said that they were ‘good’. On the 6th day, God created humans and said that they were ‘very good’.
The world progresses and transforms because everyone has different gifts and talents to move it forward. What a tragedy it would be if someone changed themselves to become more like someone else. Trust that by being who God has called you to be, you will find people that support and love you.