Fitting In is Missing Out

This article was originally published on riskology.co

Image by: assbach

If there’s anything in life I’m sure of, its that it is incredibly hard to fit in. This is a relatively recent realization for me, but I’m 100% certain of it.

Its pretty commonly accepted that the opposite is true, but it’s also pretty commonly accepted that the safest path through life is a well worn road. The wider it is and the more street lights there are, the better an option it is.

You can see it everywhere. It’s why we drive on freeways that are boring but get us from Point A to Point B quickly.

It’s why Wal-Mart sells us incredibly cheap junk that gets the job done for now.

It’s why we work for corporations that don’t care all that much about our personal development but feed us a paycheck just big enough to keep us from thinking too hard about it.

How we got here I’m not entirely sure, but it’s clear that we’ve conditioned ourselves to believe that fitting in and doing what everyone else is doing is easy and the rewards for it are just big enough to not worry about it.

Take away those rewards, though, and the entire system breaks.

We realize just how hard we’re working to fit someone else’s model. It’s happening right now and you can see it everywhere. Humans have been kicking around Earth for about 200,000 years, but we’ve only rewarded “fitting in” for the last 100 — since the beginning of the industrial revolution. That’s when we decided that being a cog in the machine was the way of the future.

100 years is a long time for a single person, though, so it only took one or two generations to accept this as normal. But it isn’t normal. It was a bubble and the bubble is bursting. It’s bursting just like the housing bubble did when, after just a few years, we decided that buying a house that cost ten times our income with an interest only loan and no savings was “just the way it’s done.”

Seth Godin goes into great detail about this in his book, Linchpin. It’s a fascinating read and I highly recommend it.

We’re at a crossroads, and if you’re still trying so hard to fit in to the world you know, you’re missing out on all the benefits of stepping out and really being you. The truth is, we’re constantly progressing and progress doesn’t stop for anyone.

We’re always at a crossroads and as long as you’re trying to fit in, you’ll always be missing out.

Everybody has a vision of themselves and who they’d be if there were no consequences. Maybe they’d unleash an idea they’ve had forever or quit their job and live on a sailboat. Maybe they’d just wear a pair of shoes they’ve always thought were too weird.

So what’s really stopping us from just doing it right now?

Given the circumstances we’re in, it feels like too big a risk to stand out, to be ourselves. If we want to survive with the same comfort we’re used to, we’d better just stay in line.

That’s the way I saw it for a long time, but I was wrong. You see, there are two kinds of risks in life, internal and external, and I was only paying attention to one of them.

My fixation on external risks — the loss of money, friends, time — was really strong and tangible. If one of those things happened, I could see how my life was affected by it with my own eyes. This is what kept me blind to a much bigger, more internal risk — the risk of getting through life without ever doing anything I really cared about.

I thought I was keeping myself comfortable, but in reality, I was actually making myself more and more agitated. At first, it was easy to ignore, but after awhile, I could literally feel myself get angrier and angrier each time I passed up an opportunity to do something that “people might not understand.”

Perhaps you know the feeling?

But eventually something has to give. The question isn’t if, but when? Each one of us has a breaking point and if you haven’t found yours yet, you will. When you do, will you have enough time left to make something of it?

Being yourself, being the real, true, authentic you is easy. Really easy, actually.

That person that comes out when no one’s looking, when your guard is down? That’s you. Being you is the most natural thing you can do. That’s the you that you must give to the rest of the world in order to make a difference now. I know how difficult it seems when everyone else is still hard at work trying to fit into the mold that their job, their friends, and their TV is telling them to.

Don’t worry too much about that. It will all change soon, but only if you make it change.

It all starts with you.

No one else is up to the challenge, so you’re just going to have to do it yourself.

The good news is, we’re all waiting for you to do it. Even though we won’t say it out loud, we really want to know what the real you looks like, sounds like, acts like. We want you to do it so we can see just how easy it is for us to do, too.

We’re tired of all the effort it takes to fit in and we’re begging for you to show us how to relax and be ourselves.

Will you help us?

Tyler Tervooren founded Riskology.co, where he shares research and insights about mastering your psychology by taking smarter risks. For more, join his Smart Riskologist Newsletter.

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