Steve Toltz said in A Fraction of The Whole, “When you’re a child to stop you from following the crowd you’re assaulted with the line “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?” but when you’re an adult and to be different is suddenly a crime, people seem to be saying, “Hey. Everyone else is jumping off a bridge. Why aren’t you?”
“Fitting in” is something everybody feels like they need to do but either are having trouble doing it or simply don’t want to do. I had trouble fitting in starting in about 5th grade. This is when I decided to watch the same tv shows and wear the same brands as the girls I thought wanted to be my friend- but in reality I just wanted to be their friend. My parents blessed me with a super flux of opportunities to discover myself and if you think I am exaggerating I will make a list of the activities I have tried throughout growing up.
The list of activities includes but is not limited to: Irish Dance, floor hockey, soccer, softball, volleyball, basketball, iceskating, piano, violin, girl scouts, drama, forensics, speech, swimming, and creative writing classes.
When I went to highschool I thought it would be a change. New school. New people. New me. But by the end of freshman year I seemed to have added one girl to my group of friends I already had established from grade school and it was nothing like I hoped it would be. Everyone was going out and drinking or going to parties and I was sitting in my pajamas eating popcorn, and looking through their facebook albums wondering what I did wrong. Was it always me? What am I doing wrong here?
Sophomore into Junior year I met the 9 best people I still call my best friends. We were all so different that when we came together we were the same. We enjoyed making videos, going on random adventures, having photoshoots, and discovering new places to hang out. There was never a dull day. There still never is. Everyone used to say “you guys are like the show FRIENDS, but better.” I think what I liked most was that some of us smoked, some of us drank, some of us were straight edge, some of us were artsy, some of us were athletic, and all of us never conformed to be like everybody else. That is what makes our friendships so strong: we like each other for who we really are.
Freshman year of college came around and to say I felt like an outcast is an understatement. I felt like every class I walked into was an interview I had to attend, and I was drunk and unprepared. I didn’t make many friends that were girls and when I did, there was drama. So I naturally clung to my comfort zone… being a “bro.” Now don’t get me wrong, my friends from my first University are friendships I still cherish today and I love them all so very much. But to describe my freshman year in 5 words they would be- tears, unprepared, homesick, regretful, & depressing. I felt like I was in a nightmare I would never wake up from. Whether it was my insane classes or the amount of “fake” people I saw on a daily basis… I felt like I would never fit in. To make it worse, all my friends seemed to have found the perfect school and the perfect groups of friends and would tell me all about it. How selfish was I to not only be mad at them for being so happy but to be jealous of their happiness?
I wasn’t the girl who wanted to go out and party everyday. I wanted to sit in my room and write. I wasn’t the girl who wore her hair done and dressed up for class. I put on a beanie and some leggings and dragged my ass to class. I never felt like I fit in. And now that I transferred I have friends from highschool and they are so amazing to me. But I still don’t have a solid group of friends. I still don’t fit in. Maybe I was born to stand out. I just don’t know what I am doing but I know where I want to go. I am in school to get my sociology degree to become a children’s therapist/counselor. On the side, I write to you, hoping that one day someone will offer me a writing job (with no writing degree) and I can move downtown Chicago or to LA and I can make money doing the thing I really love. No, I do not want to major in journalism or English…why? Why is for another post.
But, here is the exciting part of this post. I reached out to a family friend of mine Sam Steinle and asked her to collab on this topic with me. Sam and I decided to both write about the struggles of “fitting in.” Sam has now moved to LA and writes a blog, sings, and is one of the bravest and most inspirational women I have been so lucky to know. So I am not going to conclude this blog, I am going to give the honor to do so to Sam, “it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to not fit in with the “cool kids”. It’s okay to have your own passions and not go with the norm of our generation. I know it can feel a bit lonely sometimes especially when most of the people around you think differently and have different priorities.” But don’t feel lonely! As Sam said, “neither of us really fit in with our generation. We have different priorities and interests that we’d rather focus on.” So, while you feel lost and not know where you’re going, know that nobody ever really does.
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