Must You Fit In?

Hello, my friend!

In this week’s newsletter, I wanted to share with you a lesson I learned through meeting people, pretending, and overcoming the fear that was keeping me away from being myself. 

And I hope this will encourage you to look into your own life, and maybe rethink some decisions. The best part is that the things that I am going to talk about today, if properly considered, can make your life better.

Let’s jump right into it.

As I travel through the cities I grew up in, I have come to recall the child I was: a little scared, yet overconfident.

I used to play football and cricket as a child; I was pretty good at them, people said. In grade 6, I was the team captain for football and one of the best bowlers in my cricket team. My friends used to say that if I continued playing, I could play real tournaments.

I was honestly flattered by that. I thought I would, as they said, continue playing.

But then… life happened.

I don’t remember exactly what, but something clicked in me, and I realized that the only reason that I was playing cricket and dedicating myself so much to football was because I wanted to fit in.

I was playing so that the circle of friends I had would accept me, and so that they would count me as one of them.

And then, as the type of person I was and the risks I was willing to take, I stopped playing. I didn’t even reduce the number of matches I played in, I quit the games entirely.

I realized football and cricket weren’t really my passion. I didn’t really feel the excitement for the games, and in sports entirely. 

In layman’s terms: I wasn’t a sportsperson.

I am glad because, at that time, I had the courage to stand up for myself against the fear of not fitting in. 

However, I have seen this theme consistently throughout the years. 

Every now and then, people do things, say things, or pretend, only to fit in.

I haven’t been away from that myself.

As I switched high schools for my junior and senior years, I found myself among new people, interesting people, people that I thought I wanted to be around. 

So, I pretended.

I pretended to be like them, to like the things they liked, to enjoy doing the things they enjoyed doing. All of that was while none of those things excited me, I didn’t really want to do those things.

The only reason was I thought that doing those things would help me fit in.

And as I talked to more and more people about these things, I realized that it wasn’t just me. Many people do this.

Many people do things that they don’t really want to do, or pretend to like things that they absolutely dislike, simply to fit in.

While I won’t say this is entirely wrong, the question that bothers me is: Must You Fit In?

Do you really want to be around people who aren’t really your type? Do you really want to waste your life pleasing others? Do you really want to sacrifice your own reality, your own character, only so that others like you?

I have experienced this even in the case of backbiting about people. Agree or not, all of us have done it at some point in life.

When someone backsbites about a mutual, more often than not, we seem to pretend as if we agree with them, even if we don’t really.

But do we really need to do that?

Why can’t we just say: “Hey, look, I know that we have had different experiences with the person you are talking about. And while I won’t say you are wrong, I really don’t feel comfortable backbiting about him/her. So let’s just not talk about him.”?

Or if that feels hard to do, why don’t we just walk away?

To give you another example, I was often invited to parties during high school by the boys of my class. I didn’t go out with them even once.

It wasn’t because I was an introvert. Most people say I am one of the most outgoing and confident people they’ve met.

It was because I didn’t really feel that I vibed with them that much. They were all good people, no doubt. But they just weren’t the type of people I wanted to hang out with.

I think it’s high time we all reconsider some of such decisions, some of those actions, some of those acts that we perform so that others like us, so that we fit in.

Have you done such things yourself? Have you done things or pretended only to fit in?

I would love to know. Do let me know via email responses or comments.

Until we meet next time, take care, my friend.

We shall talk more often.

Have a wonderful week!

Zài jiàn! —That’s Mandarin for Goodbye.

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