“Be who you are and put your feelings into words, because those who care don’t care and those who care don’t.” ~Bernard M. Baruch
At a young age, perhaps in 4th or 5th grade, I realized I was an outsider.
I didn’t like playing video games after school, and I was playing basketball while the other boys were playing soccer. Most of all, I didn’t like the unpleasant and sometimes bullying atmosphere that formed between close friends.
One good friend in particular, let’s call Theo, I thought of as a best friend.
Over the years, we celebrated birthdays, played together, laughed together, and walked hand in hand from school to after-school clubs. I was proud that he was my best friend and that I belonged to him too, but lately I’ve been noticing a change in Theo’s attitude towards me.
One day, another friend, Sebastian, accompanied me on my usual 800m walk to the club after school. Sebastian and Theo lived in the same neighborhood, their parents knew each other well and played on the same football team.
As I made them walk side by side in front of me, trudging along the narrow pavement, laughing and jokingly pushing each other like boys of that age, a sudden wave of grief swept over me. It felt like they completely forgot I existed.
I felt something invisible.
I decided to slowly bend back to see if they noticed I wasn’t walking behind them.
My assumption was confirmed. I became invisible, and worse, in that moment, I realized that my best friend was no longer my best friend.
I strayed from my usual route and walked to a small treehouse near the after-school club I built earlier this year. The treehouse was empty that day, as it was drizzling quietly from gray clouds.
I threw my bag on the ground and climbed the tree effortlessly. Here I sat in silence on a branch, watching innocent tears roll down my cheeks and splash to the ground. I was overwhelmed by the realization that something was different about me.
Something in me, close to the core of who I am, has become unacceptable and unappreciated by my closest friends. but why? He was always kind and caring. Patient and tolerant. considerate. And now I was lonely, an outsider. An old soul caught in a crowd of young boys.
So… what do kids do when they realize they’re not the right fit? they adapt. They become what they need to ‘survive’.
This is a simple defense mechanism that is deeply rooted in the subconscious of all humans to protect themselves from further harm.
It reminds me of the daily challenge of fitting in as a teenager. I changed the way I spoke, the clothes I wore, my opinions and personal values. Depending on who he spoke to, he changed his language to meet their expectations, and kept hiding his true self from himself and the world around him.
There was a great deal of fear in my mind that if I showed my true, kind nature, I would be called a wimp, bullied, or ostracized. It was a deep fear that drove me to blend in wherever I could, even if it meant lying, being rude, or being a little violent.
I got so used to wearing different masks that it became my identity and my true loving self was hidden behind a wounded child.
The interesting thing is that all this happened on a subconscious level. I wasn’t openly telling myself to change my behavior just to fit in with my surroundings. In fact, I didn’t even realize it was happening until many years later.
It was a few months ago that I remembered this image of a young boy sitting in a tree, like a flash of my past, and I have pondered its significance ever since.
The boy went through what everyone goes through sooner or later…
I call it heartbreak.
Heartbreak is an inevitable part of the human experience. A broken heart teaches you how to deal with pain, so that may be the most important part.
Pain is natural, but when we hold on to it, it becomes suffering. Suffering is a choice because we always have the ability to work through pain.
As adults, we have the authority and responsibility to validate the pain we experienced as children. We are faced with a choice: Overcome the pain or hide behind it? Is it to suppress internalized fears or to express them?
To heal and reconnect with our true selves, our inner child, we must look within and face the pain of the past with courage, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. must be
Because you can’t heal unless you admit that you’re bleeding.
For me, things changed when I made a transformative decision. I started being brutally honest with myself.
Suddenly I began to find myself changing my behavior just to meet the expectations of others. I realized when I twisted the truth to make myself look better. I realized my underlying fear of being excluded. And I finally accepted the uncomfortable truth that I was so afraid of what others would think of me that I was always seeking to please and be accepted by people.
When that acceptance was not found, fear set in and defenses kicked in.
The best thing you can do when you feel scared is to doubt it. Analyze it and ask, “Why does this harmless thing inspire me so deeply?”
I also realized how painful it was to not be my true self. I kept conversations exhausting and avoiding certain people because I knew I had to show off. Acting is tiring and tiring is tiring.
I came up with the idea of making a list of all the things I do in a day, and crossed out the things I knew didn’t align with who I wanted to be. I also asked myself which activities bring me peace, passion and positive energy.
Journaling, meditation, and yoga became part of my routine, as did practices such as honesty, integrity, and compassion. I found myself in the depths of my spiritual awakening, and the discovery of my true self resurfaced. I felt strong and moved!
Growing up, I discovered many new things about myself that I hadn’t realized before. I love music, books, reading and writing, and have a growing passion to share my knowledge with the world around me to make a difference, even if it’s just a small one. I found out
And finally, I came to a paradoxical truth. The moment you stop trying to fit in is the moment you stop feeling like an outsider.