Have you ever felt like you don't belong? Like everyone else knows something that you don't?
It's normal to feel like you don't belong from time to time and you don't really fit in.
Maybe you're around people who are sort of like you, maybe talk like you, even act like you, but some part of yourself still doesn't quite fit in with them.
And when you're surrounded by people who seem to know everything - and who seem to know all the answers - it can be hard not to feel like an outsider.
But let me tell you something: You are not alone. There are thousands of people out there just like you who feel like they don't belong either.
And guess what? That's okay! It's actually quite normal. Everyone has a unique perspective on things and no one person is alike. If we were all the same then the world would be a far less interesting place.
Nevertheless, when you don't belong, you're never quite sure where you stand.
You look around and it seems like everyone else has their own group and they all seem to get along so well and you wish you could share the same camaraderie.
Feeling like you don't belong anywhere can make you question your place in the world and eat at your self-confidence.
In this blog post, I'll go over the reasons why you feel like you don't belong, what it feels like to belong, what it feels like when you don't belong, and how to gain a sense of belonging so you no longer feel like an outsider.
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11 Reasons why you might feel like you don't belong.
When you feel like you don’t belong, it can be a very lonely and isolating feeling. It can be hard to know what to do, or how to handle your feelings and emotions.
If you’re feeling like you don’t belong, the first thing to remember is that you do belong. You are a unique individual who has a unique perspective on life. Your life experiences have shaped you into the person that you are today.
The second thing to remember is that it’s perfectly normal to feel this way sometimes. It’s also completely natural for people to want to be around others who share similar interests and views.
So if you feel like you don’t belong, here are 11 possible reasons why:
1. Your characteristics & traits don't fit in.
We all feel like we don’t belong sometimes. We may feel like we don’t fit in, that we’re not good enough, or that we don’t fit the mold of what a person is supposed to be like.
When you don't fit in, you might feel like an outsider because you can't relate to your family or friends and feel as if they're too different from you. You may not feel like you belong in society because you don't believe in following a certain physical appearance, a particular type of personality, or a certain type of belief.
This doesn't mean that there's something wrong with you. You probably haven't found your people yet or you prefer to be alone.
2. You have a disability.
Disabilities such as physical disabilities or mental disabilities can make it difficult for you to navigate in the world and can make you feel like you don't belong.
Some people can be more judgmental towards those who are different from them, even if they can't help it. They might not understand that there is a reason why someone acts differently than them or talks differently than them, so they may not be willing to interact with them and include them in their group.
This can affect your self-confidence and self-esteem so it's important to know that it's not your fault and there's nothing wrong with you. Other people's behavior toward you says more about them than it does about you.
3. You're a cynical person.
A cynical person is someone who rejects popular opinion. This can include society's standards of beauty, common values, beliefs, etc. They are usually pessimistic and practice non-conformity.
They can also have a distrust of others, a negative and pessimistic about life in general, and strong opinions. Here are some other characteristics of a cynical people:
- They don't like to be told what to do.
- They don't believe that people are inherently good or that the world is a bright place.
- They don't believe in the concept of self-improvement or self-development because they think that people cannot change for the better.
- The only things that matter to them are their own thoughts and feelings, which makes them selfish and egocentric people.
- They don't want to share their ideas with others.
- They value their privacy and individuality more than anything else.
- They tend to avoid meeting new people.
- They prefer being alone over socializing with others or spending time with family members or friends
- They feel safe and secure in their own little world where no one can hurt them emotionally or physically.
- They can become more cynical over time.
If you have a cynical personality, you're the type of person that may come off as rude or mean.
This means that people may not enjoy being around you because they feel like you are too abrasive or blunt. Or maybe their words are falling on deaf ears.
They may think that nothing they say will change your mind and therefore they stop trying to reach out to you. So, they see these traits as not fitting in with the group and could cause them to reject you based on these reasons.
When you are a cynical person, you may feel like you don't belong anywhere because you have nothing in common with other people around you.
This doesn't mean that there's something inherently wrong with you. There are actually some benefits to this personality type.
Here are some of the pros of being cynical:
Pros of Being Cynical:
- You're not easily swayed by other people's opinions
- You're good at seeing the big picture
- You're more likely to question authority figures
- You don't trust easily or blindly follow rules or advice from others
- You value truth and integrity.
- You are honest with yourself and others.
- You stick to your values.
- You don't set yourself up for disappointment.
- You can be very passionate about what you believe in.
- You are realistic.
4. You don't fit the "standard".
Society can have rigid standards for everything such as beauty, personality, body size, and even religion.
Because of these rigid standards, you may not fit in with what is considered standard or normal. This could be what society defines as normal in regards to body size, gender, religion, etc.
Maybe you feel like out of place because of a physical appearance that doesn’t align with mainstream beauty standards (such as a big nose or short height).
Maybe you feel like an outsider because your race, culture, and language are different from those around you and it makes it hard for you to communicate and connect with them.
Or you might feel ostracized because society doesn't accept your gender, sexual orientation, political views, beliefs, or values.
5. You have trouble getting along with others.
You may have a hard time feeling a sense of belonging because you find it difficult to relate to other people. You think that they are too judgmental and critical of your beliefs, values, and actions. Or that they just don't seem to understand where you're coming from and why you act the way you do.
Or maybe you feel as though life is against you - that bad things will always happen to you no matter what you do. If this sounds familiar, one of the reasons why you feel like you don't belong could be the inability to get along with others.
There could be a multitude of different reasons why you don't get along with others very well. Some of them may be:
- Trouble trusting others and being very wary of people's motives.
- Being suspicious that others are out to get you or take advantage of your good nature and kindness.
- Worrying about being taken advantage of by those around you and having difficulty getting close to others emotionally without you getting defensive or pulling away from them.
- Not engaging with others and having little to no friends as a result.
- Keeping distance in a relationship or having strained relationships with others, which makes it difficult to connect with others outside of the family unit.
- Having a history of being bullied in school or work and a fear of trusting others.
- Having had pain and trauma in your life and falsely believing you deserve it.
Though you may have many valid reasons for not getting along with other people, you may feel like somehow, deep down, there's something wrong with who you are on the inside.
You're not sure if there is a place for you somewhere in the world. This can cause feelings of isolation, loneliness, or worse and can lead to serious issues over time if left unchecked.
Whatever the cause of your feeling like an outsider, it's important to know that it's not uncommon to feel this way at some point in life.
6. You can't connect with others.
You have difficulty making genuine connections with others because you're scared of getting hurt or rejected.
I've been there and have distanced myself from others on purpose because I was afraid of being hurt or abandoned by them. I thought I was protecting myself by creating a big rift between me and other people.
But what I was really doing was protecting myself emotionally, and it did not benefit me in the long run. It took a while for me to realize that connection didn't equate with being in danger or that distancing myself did not always equate with security and support.
Nevertheless, it's hard when the people around us don't understand our struggles or our pain because we can't connect with them in the way we would like.
If you ever have these feelings, know that it doesn't mean there's something wrong with you or that there's something missing from your life. It just means that sometimes life isn't easy and we can't control what happens to us sometimes.
7. You are in your head too much.
One of the reasons why you lack a sense of belonging is the tendency to overthink or self-monitor. When you are inside your head too much, you are not in the present moment. You are either thinking about what happened in the past or worrying about what will happen in the future.
This is a very common thing to do, however, when you're feeling like you don't belong, and can really get in the way of enjoying yourself and being yourself around other people.
When you're inside your head too much, you tend to monitor every single thing that comes out of your mouth. And this makes it difficult for you to gain a sense of belonging because you worry too much about what other people think and whether or not they approve of you.
The problem with constantly monitoring yourself is you have a hard time relaxing and letting things happen naturally. You're always thinking about what others are thinking of you, how they see you, if they think you're weird or not like them. And because of this, it's very difficult for you to be yourself around other people.
Overthinking and excessive monitoring can make you feel insecure and unsure about yourself. You need to recognize when you do this because it can get in the way of your growth and evolution as a person.
8. You are awkward, quiet, and shy.
You are afraid of speaking your mind because you often feel awkward, quiet, or shy around other people. You feel like an outsider in every group or social setting, even with your closest friends.
You try to be more outgoing and talk to people, but it's just not who you are and you can't force yourself to change who you are.
When someone asks how your day was at work or school, you tend to clam up and you don't think that your opinion is important or worthy enough to be shared.
These are just some examples of being awkward, quiet, and shy. There's nothing wrong with being this way and if it's your natural personality, then you don't have to change it for the sake of fitting in. You don't have to be something you're not just because it's more acceptable to be bubbly, outgoing, and friendly.
But if it's bothering you, then you might want to consider trying something new. You don't have to change yourself drastically. You can start off by simply speaking up when the opportunity presents itself.
Or you can investigate what is holding you back from sharing yourself or being your authentic self with others. It takes courage to speak up or be yourself in front of other people.
Especially if you've been a shy, awkward, and quiet person most of your life. It can take time to develop interpersonal skills, but the byproduct of having that sense of belonging from others who genuinely care about you is worth the effort.
9. You lack self-confidence.
You lack confidence in yourself, which is why you feel unsure and you constantly doubt yourself. There could be many reasons why you lack self-confidence or self-esteem.
Here are some reasons why you might lack self-confidence:
- You have never had anyone in your life who believed in you and supported you.
- You've been through some really hard times in your life and feel like you don't deserve any happiness.
- You are constantly comparing yourself to others.
- You judge yourself and engage in negative self-talk.
- You have limiting beliefs such as "I'm not good enough" or "I can never do this".
- You're afraid to be yourself, so you try to be like everyone else.
- You feel like you're an imposter.
- You have a hard time accepting compliments from other people because you don't think you're worthy enough.
- You have a hard time trusting people and opening up to them.
- You don't believe in yourself or your ability to accomplish things, so you don't set goals for yourself or try new things.
- You're afraid to get out of your comfort zone because you're afraid you're going to fail.
- Someone told you that you were not worthy enough.
Whatever the reason may be, it's important to acknowledge the problem so that you can begin to change it.
The reason you want to change is that people with higher self-esteem tend to have a greater sense of belongingness. Being optimistic and wanting to be around others is associated with greater happiness.
If you want to be happier in life, it's worthwhile to get a sense of belonging in a way that resonates with you. Remember that self-confidence takes some time to build, so don't be discouraged if you don't feel it right away.
10. You are going through a transition or crisis.
Whether physical, mental, or emotional, you may be going through a transition right now, which can make you feel disconnected, like you don't belong anywhere.
One good example is constantly moving from place to place. Let's say, you moved around a lot when you were little, which is why you don't feel like you truly belong anywhere. Maybe you relocated with your parents to many different cities or even countries and you were always the new kid in class.
Or maybe you moved from foster home to foster home. Or maybe your parents are separated and you constantly switch between them. Moving around a lot can add stress and disruption to a person's life.
Whatever the reason may be, it's not your fault. However, moving around a lot can make it hard to bond with others.
You may never feel like you have roots in any one place, and that can make it hard for you to create lasting friends and form close bonds with others.
Some are some other examples of transitions in life that are challenging:
- Going through a breakup.
- Going through a separation or divorce.
- Becoming a new parent or having more kids.
- Graduating from school or going back to school.
- Moving to a new place.
- Getting a new job.
- Losing your job.
- Losing a lot of money.
- Losing someone.
- Health changes.
- Getting older.
- Empty nesting.
- Moving from place to place.
All of these transitions in life can affect you physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually and make life more challenging. So it's understandable that times like these can make you feel like you're an outsider.
11. You are going through a crisis.
You might feel like you don't belong because you are going through some sort of crisis right now and you don't know who you are anymore. Or you may have had a major disruption in your life that was so catastrophic that it put you in crisis mode.
There are different categories when it comes to crises such as an existential crisis, an emotional crisis, an identity crisis, a natural disaster, a major downturn in health, etc.
Examples of situations that can trigger a crisis can be:
- Dealing with depression or anxiety.
- Suffering a great loss such as financial loss.
- Not having access to resources such as shelter, water, or food.
- Family disruption.
- Unreported abuse.
- Thoughts of suicide.
The best way to deal with this is by talking to someone who has experience in dealing with situations like this such as a licensed therapist, a crisis support group, or someone who has gone through something similar to what you're going through.
What it feels like when you don't belong.
When you feel like you don't belong anywhere, you can feel like you're an outcast - someone who is always on the outside looking in.
You feel like an outcast because everyone around you gets along perfectly well without having to think about who they are or where they fit in.
You feel like no one understands you but those who know you best. Even then, you can't be completely honest with your people because it's hard for you to connect with them authentically.
Sometimes it feels exhausting trying hard to belong that all you want to do is give up and live like a hermit.
What does belonging look and feel like?
Belonging looks and feels like you are a part of something bigger than yourself, whether you are a part of a family, club, sports team, or church group.
Being part of a group means you probably have shared interests, be it your beliefs, your activities, or even what you wear. Studies have shown that having a sense of belonging can be a predictor of your overall health.
The more you feel connected, supported, and like you're a part of something, the better your health outcome. Belonging is a powerful feeling. It's one of the most basic human needs. We all want to feel like we're part of something bigger than ourselves.
When you have a sense of belonging, it feels like you have a built-in security and safety. It feels good to belong because we naturally crave a sense of wanting to be a part of something.
When you have attention and positivity from others, you feel validated. You share values and beliefs with other people and it makes your experiences that much more meaningful.
You are able to be yourself around others without fear of judgment or rejection. It feels reassuring knowing that there are people out there who understand how you feel and accept who you are no matter what.
10 ways to create a sense of belonging.
1. Know yourself.
You can start by getting to know who you are on a deeper level. Knowing yourself helps you feel more connected to yourself so you can be comfortable in your own skin and gain confidence in yourself.
It starts with learning to belong in your own skin before you start to feel like you can connect with others with more meaning and authenticity.
Journaling is a great way to get to find your sense of belonging by writing out the thoughts that are in your head so you can better understand who you are.
My favorite way to journal is to write in a spiral notebook for 5 minutes each morning without monitoring or filtering my thoughts and just allowing the pen to free flow.
3. Know your identity.
If you want a sense of belonging, you need to find your identity first. Your identity is made up of many different parts, such as your race, gender, culture, socioeconomic status, and where you live.
It is also made up internal influences like your beliefs, values, likes, dislikes, desires, and dreams. All of these external and internal factors that make up you identity can help you better understand where and how you belong.
4. Become more aware.
Your sense of belonging starts with becoming more aware. Awareness allows you to observe objectively how you interact with the world and with other people.
You need to have a good sense of who you are by observing your reactions, emotions, thoughts, actions and behavior while they're happening.
5. Accept who you are.
Self-acceptance is embracing fully who you are, all the good and not so good parts. Not fully accepting yourself can keep you from having a sense of belonging.
Self-acceptance is not something that comes naturally to everyone though. If this is you, start by releasing negative self-talk. Practice this regularly until you can add positive affirmations, which are acts that help increase positive feelings.
6. Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is being aware of what is happening in the present moment to help decrease suffering and increase compassion for yourself and others.
It's a great tool to help you gain a better understanding of how your thoughts and actions affect your behavior so you can connect with yourself better and gain a deeper sense of belonging.
7. Practice self-compassion.
When you feel like you don't belong, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to practice self-compassion. For all those times you feel lonely or disconnected, even in the presence of others, give need to give yourself some kindness.
Kindness is an act of love, and you can give that love to yourself to protect against feelings of loneliness because you feel like you don't fit in.
8. Find your purpose in life.
Your purpose in life is the reason behind many of the things that you do. Having a sense of purpose and meaning can help you gain a sense of belonging.
You gain this by having something to look forward to and achieving a sense of working toward something that is bigger than yourself.
9. Join a group.
Studies have shown that having a good sense of belonging can help you feel happier. It can also give you a stronger sense of purpose and security, especially during challenging times.
You can try to meet up with like-minded people that share the same interests as you. If the thought of meeting random, new people scares you, start small. You can join groups online or even say hi or smile at someone you don't know.
10. Get help.
If the feelings of loneliness become too overwhelming, you can always ask for help. You can ask someone you trust or get some professional help.
Other helpful articles.
I hope you found these 11 reasons why you don't belong and tips to gain a sense of belonging helpful. It's normal to feel like you don't belong and the reasons may range from having a different mindset to relocating every few months.
And it's okay to feel this way every once in a while, but if the feeling lingers even when you're surrounded by people you know, then it's time to seek help.
You can use simple tools to help you know yourself better so you can feel like you belong in your own skin, such as journaling, becoming more aware, accepting who you are, being more mindful, giving yourself compassion, meeting new people, and getting professional help.
Whatever choice you make, know that you're not alone and that there's always a place in this world for you!