“Fitting In” And Why You Shouldn’t Do It

By Mariah Jeffrey
July 9, 2020

Be Yourself

Why try so hard to fit a narrative instead of being the person you are meant to be?

I’ve lived my life trying to be someone else because I didn’t make the cut in other people’s eyes. At eleven years old in 2008, during the recession, my family and I made a huge move from Michigan to California hoping to start a new life. I left my Grandma, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends; it wasn’t easy to do, but I was just a kid and, the wind blows Mariah.

California is an amazing place, it is full of diversity, has great food, the best weather, clean beaches, and a sea of opportunity. When I started school in San Clemente in the fifth grade, I realized I was different. I didn’t know anybody, and I definitely stood out. I made one great friend but, unfortunately, had to switch schools and cities after a year, just in time for Middle School… Unsurprisingly, these weren’t the best years of my life. I tried to make any friends that I could, and soon enough, I had a clique. However, the girls that I rounded up only wanted to change me. First, “don’t talk like that”, then, “don’t dress like that”, and finally “why are you doing that?” They told me they said this to me because they wanted to help me, they wanted me to fit in.

I had a Mid-West accent, I dressed like a mismatched hippy, and all I could remember is not listening to them. I didn’t care about “fitting in” all I cared about is that I had friends to sit with at lunch. I won the middle school pie-eating contest in front of the whole school, against a boy. I ran 6-minute miles in P.E. because I didn’t care to be one of the “cool kids” in the back. I knew what I was good at, and I made the most of it. I didn’t like cussing or vulgarity and I didn’t even shave my legs until the eighth grade until someone pointed it out. I questioned authority and I question anyone that tells someone what they’re doing is wrong just because it doesn’t match the way they would do it. There are a million ways to do things, there are a billion ways to live your life. Why settle to live the same life everyone else is living?

I think life can be very judgmental, and the people in it, just as much. A lot of acquaintances and friends that I have encompassed within my life, have proven to me throughout the years, that they don’t want you to be better than them. You may think they want the best for you, and they probably think they do too. But this only applies when the best, is not above them. Some may tell you things that may get to you or start to make you think differently, this started when I was just a kid and didn’t ever really change. They may question your abilities, beliefs, or preferences; don’t listen to them. Trust me, if you believe in yourself and know who you are, you do not need their approval, you don’t even want their opinion.

If something is right for you, you’ll know. Keep doing you and don’t care about what anyone thinks, including your friends, and family. If you enjoy something in life, if you’re good at something, or, if you truly love someone, you don’t need to explain that to anyone or try and force anyone to understand. If they don’t get it, trust me you will find someone that does. For now, manifest your energy into your passions, don’t let people put you into a box. Because who cares if you don’t “fit in”, no one is worth changing for.

My advice to you is, be yourself, don’t listen to people’s opinions, and don’t change. You are the way you are for a reason, and you will add to this world because of it. If you change because other people tell you to; you’ll lose sight of yourself, you’ll stop trusting your own instincts and, you’ll start becoming miserable. The sooner you understand that the sooner you will live the life you were intended to. As soon as you start believing in your capabilities, understanding your strengths and being more resilient to negativity, the sooner you’ll end up happy, and on your way to reaching your full potential.

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