At the preliminary stages of human existence, inclusivity was the key to survival.
But now that we no longer fear being mauled by bears when walking alone in public — inclusivity is a privilege.
Like most super-organisms, humans are still wired to thrive in communities, so it’s no surprise the devastating effects being an outsider can have on some of us. But inclusivity not being a necessity anymore means there are more of us on the outside now.
Most people spend entire lives feeling like they are still on the margins of inner-circles, despite inviting our envy for being insiders. They are stuck in a vicious reward cycle of climbing social hierarchies and it never ends for them. Research confirms that seeking status has a strong neural basis; making all of us just as susceptible to this trap.
So here are 5 reasons to love your quirks and keep dancing awkwardly on the edges of the dancefloor (i.e. the inner-circle of “cool kids”) despite all pressure to fit in.
1. Abandoning Your Truth Is Worse Than Being Abandoned by Others
The paradox of the world is that it makes it difficult for those who are different — yet, the outliers are the ones who lead the pack.
We love to create cookie-cutter versions of a successful prototype, and we treat anything that deviates even slightly from it, like a failed experiment. But sometimes when people abandon you for your quirks, it’s only a sign that you haven’t found your crowd.
After all, wanting to be exactly like everyone else is a low ambition to set for yourself. Specially when only you can make the best case for why you deserve love and appreciation.
The path to razing and leveling yourself to fit in a box can be a slippery slope.
Pretending to be someone else will lead to anxiety, misery, and depression. This is because you are most alone when you surround yourself with those who don’t know the real you.
The question to ask is, if you discard so much of yourself to belong to a group, are you really any kinder than anyone else? Is losing who you are ever going to add anything unique and of value to a world where everyone aspires only to fit in?
2. Superman Was an Alien, and Everyone Loved Him
There is a world of difference in being mysterious and being a social pariah.
Yet the lines sometimes blur when you watch Clark Kent in his work environment. You don’t have to be superhuman, but even if you were, the movie did a pretty good job of proving that society can be completely clueless about your strength.
People can be too self-absorbed to look beyond what serves them at the moment, but that is never something to take personally. When others stop talking to us, we hear more than those who keep talking. We get to observe more when we are not being observed.
People love putting others in boxes for convenience, but it’s human nature to gravitate towards those who keep us guessing.
Slipping through a room unnoticed can become a superpower instead of a punishment — only if you’re ready to make that change in mindset for yourself.
3. Integrity Is More Permanent Than Belonging
Most of the heartache that comes from being an outsider roots from missing a sense of belonging.
We all wish to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We want to belong to groups, societies and communities — it is often our best chance of touching the enormity with our brief existence.
Sometimes we lower our standards, loosen our morals, put up with things that might not align with who we are just for acceptance. A humanitarian psychologist Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs explained that for most individuals, “belonging” can be more pressing a need than building self-esteem or being our truest version.
But belonging that comes through denial of who we are is fleeting and fearful.
Integrity ensures we earn our gains through honesty and truth to ourselves — it makes people not only pick us but also stick with us. It makes belonging permanent.
Finding security and acceptance within should always be paramount to finding it from those around you.
4. Your Personal Freedom Is Worth More Than What They’re Selling
It is the age of the classic type-a personality.
The man in flight going places, always in an expensive suit, negotiating business deals in the day and mapping out conversations in the blink of an eye over client lunches — sounds familiar for a reason.
He’s not just an oversold protagonist in movies and books.
He’s all around you. Masquerading as an ideal to look up to. You are conditioned to like him, believe in him, and more often than not — become him.
But endorsing this dude comes at the cost of liking yourself less. That’s because he’s a salesman trying to sell you something. But your purpose in life is not to sell yourself. You can’t as easily package and contain all your trauma and glory in a niche.
Real growth happens in response to positive stimuli, not pressure to become someone that doesn’t resonate with you on a spiritual level.
Chances are, if you are a misfit, then you have already resisted a lot of the pressure to be someone you’re not. You have more freedom to believe in yourself and the opportunities not explored by others.
You can embrace what makes you weird and you can come up with your own answers to universal dilemmas.
Treasuring your personal freedom allows you to explore personas beyond those marketed as natural selection in a capitalist world.
5. Low-Hanging Fruits Are Not Really the Ripest
Human beings love to take the path of least resistance.
“Our brain tricks us into believing the low-hanging fruit really is the ripest,” says Dr Nobuhiro Hagura, who led the UCL Research team.
Dr. Hagura’s research shows that which takes less effort is automatically more desirable to us because we factor in the cost to take action. It is easier to like the kid who asks the least questions, complies to our every demand and just goes with what everyone else wants for dinner.
It’s also easier to be that kid.
When you stick out from a group, you irritate people. You cause friction in places where people would rather pass through on autopilot.
But the truth is, it is hard to ignore someone who defies the norm — you might not remember the silent kid from school, but you can never forget the kid who forced you to stop daydreaming and come right back to class with his incessant questioning.
This is not a lesson in being obnoxious. But it is one in being alright with making others uncomfortable sometimes.
It’s asking questions no one else gives a second thought that drives humanity forward. It’s people who dare to put up with uncomfortable situations so others don’t have to that we choose as leaders. That’s why it’s important to keep holding on, no matter how rocky it gets.
Life might just be showing you a trailer of when you will rock the foundations of an obsolete concept and prove everyone wrong.
Melding in with the world around you can be good thing, but ultimately, it’s not an accurate measure of your worth. When we only live to appease the masses, our self-worth and unique value take a backseat.
We lower the bar for how much better we can be by eliminating the risk of not being liked by people. We deny our responsibility to ourself to seek out what really makes us happy.
Being a 100% yourself might be the single most powerful revolution you’re capable of in this life.
So go out and do the bravest thing you can do by just being you.
Accept your quirks and inspire others to do the same.