Feeling like an outsider?
Most of us have been the odd man out in some community. Accounts of feeling like an outsider are wonderful ways to connect with loved ones. Writing about how you coped, adjusted, or gained acceptance can lend insight for family members that might feel like an outsider themselves.
Past or Present Tense
Your feelings matter. If feeling like an outsider is an issue that you long ago resolved, your insight can help others in similar circumstances. It it’s an ongoing problem for you, writing about it can help your loved ones understand you better.
It’s a plot that dates back to Biblical times. It’s re-enacted almost every time someone crosses a border. Being a foreigner is practically synonymous with feeling like an outsider.
My husband and I lived in Germany for several years. Because we were on a short-term assignment, we were at peace with being visitors. It was an ideal time in our lives—we were young, healthy, and loved having 30+ vacation days in which to travel. Speaking German helped us fit in to some extent, but there was no question that we were outsiders. We were accepted but we didn’t “belong.”
Some expats have a difficult time trying to assimilate. Did you ever live in another country? Try to fit into another culture? What did you miss the most about your homeland? What did you enjoy the most? (How) Did you find your sense of belonging?
Feeling like a Misfit
Though the majority of us felt this way throughout middle school, for some of us, the “misfit” feeling dallied into adulthood. Recognizing the person that feels like a misfit isn’t intuitive. Sometimes the people we look up to as special look on themselves as odd.
Did you struggle to find a group with which you felt you could truly be yourself? Did you go through a period in which you were constantly censoring yourself trying to fit in with a group? (How) Did you find your way to be yourself and fit in?
Feeling Like an Outsider by Virtue of a Disability
Did you have some sort of disability that kept you from joining in? This could range from a peanut allergy that kept you home from birthday parties to a disability that kept you out of sports.
Was your disability something that others were aware of? How did that affect you? (How) Did you manage to find a way to fit in? Is it something with which you’ve made your peace or is it a continual thorn in your side? What wisdom do you have for loved ones?
There wasn’t ever much of a culture clash between my in-laws’ Pennsylvania/Michigan roots and my southern ones. Regardless, it warms my heart every time my father-in-law refers to me as his “Southern Comfort.”
Did you immediately meld minds with your in-laws or did it take a while for you to come to understand and appreciate each other? Did you have to figure out how to fit into family, faith, or cultural dynamics? That’s an important story to tell!
Finding your Sense of Belonging
How you found your sense of belonging can be a transformational story. Was the very thing that caused you to feel like an outsider now the way that you find your identity? A good example of this is Darcy’s Heart Stirrings On Being Church Misfits. Her story is an on-going story. Is yours?
If you had a loved one that was feeling like an outsider, what story from your past would you tell them?