How to Fit in Without Selling Out
Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in at your school? No worries! Here are some tips for how to belong when you feel like the odd one out.
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When I was in school, I had a really wide range of friends. So I had some friends that were actually popular and got invited to all of the parties. And then I had some friends who owned like 30 Dungeons and Dragons books. And if I’m being honest, I never really felt like I 100% fit in with any of them. Sometimes I would accidentally use a word like “soporific” in front of the popular kids and they would look at me like I just grew an extra head. And sometimes my playlist got vetoed in the car with my nerdy friends when they found out all I owned was gangster rap. High School can be pretty unforgiving to people who are different. So, if you can relate to this, I have some tips for you.
1. Don’t try to fit in
Feeling like we belong is a basic human need. But thinking that you have to “fit in” and be more like the popular kids to belong is actually a mistake. If you’re not into pop music and you couldn’t care less about keeping up with the Kardashians, don’t force it. People can sense when you aren’t being authentic and that’s a huge turn-off. Besides, what’s the best case scenario there? That people like you for who you’re pretending to be? Even worse, what if people don’t like you for who you’re pretending to be? Trust me, it isn’t worth the effort to fake it.
2. Be yourself
I know, I totally sound like your mom right now, don’t I? But you know what, moms know things! It’s true that not everyone is going to be cool with your obsession with thrift store vintage, but some people will think it’s awesome. And, really, which ones would you rather be friends with? You never know, your nerdy passion might even turn into a successful career someday. It happens! (Check out how Sophia Amoruso got started with Nasty Gal!)
3. Do the things you love
Do you have a nerdy hobby you’re afraid to indulge in? Don’t be! Doing the nerdy things you love is the best way to find people that you’ll connect with. Some people might make fun of you, sure. But you will have critics no matter what you do. Don’t avoid doing the things you love because people who aren’t even nice to you don’t like it.
4. Find your tribe
If you’re putting the real you out there and doing things that you love, inevitably you will find “your people”. People who actually think your interests are cool. People who even want to do the things you love with you! People who are interested in hearing what you think. People who actually share your values. People who support you and encourage you. People who like you for YOU. Those are real friendships guys. And they are magical.
5. Know that you’re not the only one
If you feel like you just don’t fit in, trust me when I say it’s not just you. I literally don’t know anyone who felt fully free to be themselves in high school. High school is just awful. It really is. Nobody knows who they are yet. Everybody feels awkward. And there’s this crazy pressure to conform. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Even the kids who seem to have everything figured out secretly feel like frauds. There is nothing wrong with you if you feel different, I promise.
6. Embrace your weird
If you’re a smart, hard-working, kid and you care about your future, you’re going to feel like you’re weird in high school. You just are. What makes you cool in highs school is apathy. And it’s really strange because there is literally no other time in life where that’s the case. There is nothing wrong with caring about your grades or your future. And when you get to college, get ready. Because everyone is smart, works hard, and cares about the future! The things that make you weird now are going to make you awesome in college. So don’t be ashamed of them!
Look, it takes a lot of courage to go against the current and just do you. But the payoff is making friends who love you for who you are and inspire you to be the best version of yourself. Don’t be shamed into watering down your personality so you can fit in with the crowd. You deserve better than that.