This is why you may feel like a social misfit. The connections we make, and the individuality we express, create a tension that makes us feel like social misfits.
We are born with a desire to belong. We are born for connection. We find these connections in our biological families, friendships, and those who share our shared values. It is in these social units that we establish a shared identity with others. We form bonds that may last a lifetime. We may find our identity in our sports teams, political parties, religious groups, social causes, and hobbies. We may sacrifice our desires for the good of our group.
But we are born with a desire to be an individual, as well. We are born with emotional, spiritual, and physical characteristics that distinguish us from others in our social groups. There is no one like us. We are an individual. This desire to express our individuality may broaden our circle of contacts and form new connections.
In this tension of wanting to belong, yet wanting to be an individual, the uniqueness that makes us desirable to one community may make us undesirable to the other.
This is what it feels like to be a social misfit. To live in unresolved tension of wanting to fit in with the group, but to have our individuality affirmed and celebrated, as well.
Individuals may spend a lifetime looking for this sweet spot. Most will never find it.
What Is A Social Misfit?
A social misfit is an individual who does not conform to the views of what is normal or acceptable in society.
Nonconformist, eccentric, and flake are a few politically correct and polite synonyms for social misfit.
Sometimes the phrases, “fish out of water” or “a square peg in a round hole” are used instead. Of course, there are profane and derogatory names that probably come to your mind.
Have You Ever Felt Like A Social Misfit?
It’s a widespread feeling. Most people can name a moment when they felt like a social misfit.
Have any of the following descriptions ever applied to you?
- Maybe you were the last one chosen to be on a team? Someone got stuck with you and was visibly unhappy to have you.
- Or your parents told you that you were unplanned, unwanted, or of the wrong sex?
- Or perhaps, after years of service to a company, you were no longer wanted and invited to leave?
- Or a statement you made on social media has caused you to be publicly shamed by others?
- Maybe your forever romance ended badly.
- Maybe you can think of another situation where you don’t feel like you belong right now.
Although most people will acknowledge that they have felt like a social misfit, there are probably exceptions. I just haven’t met anyone yet who couldn’t relate to this feeling.
The Process Of Becoming A Social Misfit.
First, a group or community made a deliberate choice to exclude you.
You may have felt excluded based on race, sexual orientation, economic standing, or personal politics. You were rejected and told you were not welcome because of who you are.
Second, you made a conscious decision not to conform to the dominant societal norms. You did so because of a principled position or belief. In doing so, you isolated yourself from others. You avoided conflict but experienced loneliness.
Third, your group forgot to include you. You were not important enough to be intentionally left out. Or, even worse, they invited but ignored you when you arrived.
I know that it may be painful to look back. But remembering our experiences as a social misfit can be a good thing.
- It can cause us to be humble, winsome, and gracious to others who hold different views.
- It can force us to learn new ways of expressing cherished and valued truths.
- It can cause us to see past a person’s race, sexual orientation, economic standing, or politics and value them for their unique individual.
- It can remind us of the value of listening not just to the words but the heart behind them.
Call to Action
Consider reaching out to someone who is having a difficult time fitting into your social circles.
Let them know you appreciate how they are uniquely made and the value they bring to your life.
Next week we will examine the benefits of being a social misfit.