Why do I feel like I don’t belong anywhere? How do I stop feeling like an outsider even when I‘m with my loved ones? Many of us have felt this way and asked these questions at some point in our lives.
As humans, we are social creatures and we have the need to connect with others and feel like we belong somewhere. It is why we strive to make friends, spend time with family, and become part of various communities. Getting a sense of belonging in a particular place or with a certain group of people makes you feel accepted, loved, understood, and valued.
Sadly, not everyone feels like they belong where they are. Some people can feel like outsiders occasionally, like when they are around new people or after moving to a new place. For others, however, feeling like you don’t belong can happen anywhere, even when you are around your friends and family. You may think you are different from everyone else around you and hence, feel isolated and lonely.
The feeling of not belonging in the world can be dangerous as it could lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. These can then result in self-destructive behaviors like suicidal tendencies and self-harm. In this post, we shall discuss several reasons why you feel like you don’t belong anywhere and how to stop feeling as if you are an outsider.
Why You Feel Like You Don’t Belong Anywhere
- You are in the wrong company
Do your friends share the same values as you? Do they like similar things? Do they value you? What is their level of intelligence? They say that opposites attract, but if your friends are very different from you, it could be the reason why you feel like you don’t belong with them.
You will be unable to contribute to the conversation when socializing with people with whom you don’t share interests, values, experiences, or struggles. So, if you want to stop feeling like you don’t belong, you need to go out there and find like-minded people to interact with.
- You are inauthentic
How can you feel like you belong somewhere when you aren’t even comfortable being your true self? Being inauthentic is one of the reasons why you feel like you don’t belong anywhere.
You will be too busy putting on a façade and pretending to be someone you are not instead of just being unapologetically yourself, standing up for what you believe in, and being honest. Even if you do manage to make friends while being fake, you will not feel like you fit in with them because that is not the real you.
Why not just take off the mask? When you embrace your authentic self, you will feel much better about yourself and meet other real people who will accept you for who you are.
- You spend a lot of time alone or on social media
You crave a sense of belonging, but then you spend most of your time on social media and surfing the web. Or, perhaps, you often isolate yourself from your loved ones and have trouble making meaningful connections with others. If you usually spend a lot of time alone or on the internet, it could be why you feel like you don’t belong anywhere in the world.
Even before the pandemic made people practice social isolation, technology was already isolating them. Studies show that excessive internet use can make you lose touch with reality and isolate yourself from the world. You may feel disconnected from the people in your real life as you prefer to spend time with virtual friends. If your online friends also have other friends they like associating with more than you, you could feel like you don’t belong with them either. You may also feel like an outsider if you get bullied online, receive negative feedback, or have low engagement on your social media posts.
A sense of belonging comes from spending time with people who love, understand, and accept you. To find your place in the world, you should unplug from technology, and go out there to make deep, meaningful connections with people. Spending time with family, hanging out with friends, and forming new relationships might seem daunting for introverts and people who are shy, but being able to feel like you belong will make your life much better.
READ ALSO: How to Keep More Good Friends in Your Life
- You are changing
As you grow older or go through various circumstances, things about you change. Your priorities, beliefs, interests, values, and even your personality could be changing, which may be why you feel like you don’t belong anywhere anymore.
Adjusting to the changes in your life could alienate you from the people you used to surround yourself with. Furthermore, you may still feel like you don’t belong even if you choose not to adjust and keep things how they have always been.
- You have mental health issues
Many people struggling with their mental health often push their loved ones away. It could be that you don’t want to burden them with your issues or don’t feel like you deserve their love and attention. For example, when you are depressed, you may isolate yourself because you think you will bring everyone else’s mood down by hanging out with them. You could also think you are worthless and have no purpose in life.
If you are struggling mentally and that is why you feel like you don’t belong anywhere, it is advisable to seek professional help from a therapist as soon as possible because the feeling may worsen and lead to self-destructive behaviors such as suicide and self-harm. You could also reach out to a friend or a family member, or call a suicide prevention hotline for help. Here is a list of SUICIDE CRISIS LINES BY COUNTRY.
- You are different
It is one thing to be authentic and another to be different from the people around you. Being different from everyone else will make you feel like an outsider.
For example, you may feel like you don’t belong because you are different in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, age, religion, language, culture, social status, personality, or if you have a disability.
Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to change some of the things that make you different in order to feel at home where you are.
READ ALSO: 10 Things You Should Never Apologize for
- You were adopted or left behind
Despite trying to fit in, many people who are adopted often feel like they don’t belong in their families. And it doesn’t only happen when your adoptive family is abusive or if you get bullied by others for being adopted. You may feel like an outsider in your family even if they love and treat you well.
Feeling like you don’t belong is common for adoptees who are aware they are adopted; those who are different from the rest of their adoptive family (e.g., because of race, physical features, talents, personality, or interests); those who are rejected by any family members (nuclear or extended), and those who know the circumstances behind their adoption (e.g., abandonment, neglect, abuse, and placement by biological parents). The sad thing is that even if you ever find your birth parents, you may still not have a sense of belonging in either family.
Being abandoned by one of your parents could also be one of the reasons why you feel like you don’t belong anywhere. You may wonder what your place in the world is if your own parent left you behind and didn’t want you. If your remaining parent gets remarried and has other kids, you could feel even more of an outsider in the new family, especially if they treat you differently.
- You don’t know your purpose in life
Growing up, everyone tells you that you need to find your purpose in life; to discover your reason for living and what you want in life. While it is good advice, it can also be the reason why you feel like you don’t belong anywhere.
If you have been trying to find your life’s purpose unsuccessfully for a long time, you may question your place in the world. You could feel like your existence doesn’t have any meaning, or as if you are not making any impact on anyone or the world.
Although discovering your purpose in life is important, you should never underestimate your value in this world even when you haven’t found it. It is up to you to take the necessary actions to create meaning in your life so you can feel more fulfilled and happy. The actions don’t have to be big; just start with small changes.
“The steps you take don’t have to be big, they just need to take you in the right direction.“– Jemma Simmons, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
- You are too closed off
Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone but they said that almost all topics are off-limits? Perhaps they say they like to keep their personal life private, they don’t like to talk about their feelings, they don’t want to intrude into other people’s lives, or, maybe, ‘no’ is their go-to word when ideas, activities, and opportunities are suggested.
Since social interactions are the first step to finding common ground, knowing more about each other, and creating meaningful connections, the walls you keep up could be the reasons why you feel like you don’t belong anywhere.
Although some people may still stick around or try to climb your high walls, most others will not continue trying to be friends with someone who is reluctant to let them in. Being too closed off could make you feel misunderstood, limit your growth, and keep you from building deep relationships that would give you a sense of belonging.
- You try too hard to fit in
Are you the kind of person who is always too eager to make friends and join groups even when you are not invited? Or are you trying too hard to be likable and acceptable to others? Most people are suspicious or put off by anyone who comes on too strong or someone who comes off as being needy.
Since you can’t force anyone to like or befriend you, trying too hard to fit in and failing could be one of the reasons why you feel like you don’t belong anywhere. The people in the group you are trying to join may not reciprocate your energy or efforts because they don’t really want you to be a part of it; hence resulting in you likely feeling rejected.
How to Stop Feeling Like You Don’t Belong
What should I do to stop feeling like I don’t belong anywhere? This is a common question asked by most people who have ever felt like this as they try to know how to stop feeling like they don’t belong.
Feeling like an outsider, whether in your own family, friend group, at work, or in the community, is one of the worst feelings. It could affect your self-confidence and cause insecurities. Furthermore, feeling like you don’t belong anywhere may also make you question your place and value in the world, thereby resulting in a low sense of self-worth.
Since it has many negative impacts, knowing how to gain a sense of belonging is crucial. Read on to learn what you should do to stop feeling like you don’t belong anywhere.
- Spend more time with loved ones
- Be authentic
- Unplug and go out to meet new people and make deeper connections
- Find like-minded individuals
- Be accepting of others
- Find your purpose in life
- Be open with others and let them know you
- Know your worth
- Move to an area where you will feel accepted
- Change the aspects of yourself that could help you fit in better, e.g. personality, communication skills, e.t.c.
- Seek professional help from a therapist
If you are feeling like you don’t belong, you are not alone. Almost everyone feels like an outsider at one point in their life. However, since this feeling can be awful and dangerous, it is important to identify the reasons why you feel like you don’t belong anywhere and find a way to stop. Try to find your place in the world. Hopefully, you have learned some helpful tips above and now know what to do when feeling like you don’t belong.
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Last Updated on November 21, 2022