We all want to belong to something, to someone.
We are programmed that way as members of a society. We are encouraged to dress a certain way, talk a certain way, act and look a certain way—all in an attempt to belong.
We desperately want to belong to our family, our community, to a circle of friends, schoolmates and colleagues. We do so because we live in a system of defined values, rules of conduct and beliefs. We forego our individual selves and play games, we lose touch with our inner voice, our true calling in life.
We spend years of our lives in a struggle and attempt to seek and define something that is there from the day we are created but have been conditioned to disregard.
Instead of making a way of our own in the world, we copy and follow the footsteps of others, we do not dare to be who we are—so we leave this world having not shown our true and beautiful self, our uniqueness.
I remember when growing up I desperately tried to belong. I tried pleasing everybody around me. But deep inside, I knew that I was an outsider. I remember at the age of six, refusing to play the games my friends played. I once overheard our downstairs neighbor whispering to my mother “why does your daughter have to be an outsider? You should really do something about it.” And trust me—my beloved mother tried.
To this day, in every phone conversation we have she anxiously begs me to be “normal” and “fit in.”
Not wanting to disappoint my family I learned to hate the outsider within me, because I believed I was not good enough and constantly felt like I did not belong. This pattern continued throughout my life. As a result, I retreated into myself and was often perceived as unsociable or arrogant.
Fearing these labels, I tried to be like others, dress like others, and love what was approved by those I wanted to belong to—and eventually this distorted my inner self.
It was not until my encounter with a great man that I learned being an outsider should be embraced, that crossing boundaries of our comfort zone leads to great moments of joy.
I learned to accept that being an outsider is a feature, and not a “bug” in my system.
I would like to share our story with you and encourage you to go and make a way of your own!
Author: Dr. Maya Shmailov
Editor: Renee Jahnke
Images: Courtesy of the Author