Fitting In Is Vastly Overrated, It’s Proven

susan sushi_london_cropppedI’m a dynamic, engaging, attractive woman. I’m creative, curious and funny. Oh yeah, and modest too!

I have my own successful one-woman communications consultancy (or at least it was successful until the recession hit!), and I know how to make small talk at business lunches and cocktail parties.

Others perceive me as cool and confident, capable and in control. They think I’m ‘amazing,’ and often tell me so. (Mostly because of the story behind this website, which you can read here: amazingwomenrock.com & I.)

So why am I such a huge fan of a book called “Fitting In Is Overrated“?

Because I never have. Fit in I mean. I’ve always felt like an outsider.

I’ve always been “different.” I’ve almost always felt alone, and often lonely. I’ve frequently felt flawed, and unloved. Woe is me (LOL).

For most of my life, I’ve longed to fit in, to be accepted, and to be loved for who I am – not in spite of my differences, but because of them.

Until now.

There Are More of Us in The Wilderness

Something has shifted. I’ve come to learn over the last several years, and more especially over the last several months, that I’m not the only one in the wilderness.

(Hey – maybe we’re the insiders, and all the mainstreamers are the outsiders lol!)

Whichever way it is, I’ve discovered that many other people also feel excluded, disconnected, and flawed. I was surprised by our numbers. Maybe you would be too… Many feel as I do, and they long to fit in. Maybe you do to…

Even better than finding that there are many more outcasts out there (or in here, depending on how you see it), than I ever would have thought possible, is the dawning realisation that being excluded, disconnected and flawed can be a great opportunity.

Wow. How empowering is that?

Fitting In Is Overrated

I’m grateful to Leonard Felder for writing Fitting In Is Overrated, the reading of which has caused me to weep more times than I care to count as I saw myself reflected in the powerful stories of real people who have made a difference because they are different.

Besides stories, the book is full of great tips and suggestions. One of them, which I call “Notes in Your Pockets,” is a simple way to put things in perspective and get centered if you’re feeling anxious, lost, overwhelmed or disconnected.

Felder’s stories are about “regular” as well as famous people. Among them are amazing women who have inspired others with their courage, determination and spirit.

Amazing Women Create Their Own Fit

Ann Bancroft (the explorer, not the actress), was considered a hyperactive problem child. She was athletic, energetic and bright, but because of a learning disability, she was placed in a “special education” class.

As a youngster, she was ashamed and frustrated that her learning difficulties made her the butt of jokes.

As a schoolgirl in the 1960s, when the heterosexuality was the only accepted sexual orientation, she hid the fact that she felt attracted to other girls.

Bancroft overcame these challenges to become a teacher and explorer. She was the first woman to cross the Antartic continent on foot – 1,700 miles in 94 days. She and fellow explorer Liv Arnesen shared their journey with millions of children around the world via satellite phones, and Ann’s first-of-its-kind interactive web community.

Felder also tells the curious story of Natalie McIntyre, a shy young girl from Ohio who rarely spoke and was ashamed of her own voice because other kids made fun of it. She has since gone on to become a world-renowned singer-songwriter, actress, record producer and music celebrity. Never heard of Natalie McIntyre? Of course you have! Her stage name is Macy Gray.

He writes about Alissa, who overcame painful shyness, Dina, who got past being beaten and abused by her parents, Geena who battled with her neighbours, and Jeanette, who used her vocal gifts to earn a living as a public speaking coach, among others.

All amazing women. All successful because of their differences, not in spite of them.

I still don’t fit in. Probably never will. But hey, as Felder says, fitting in is overrated. You don’t have to read a book to know that. You don’t need a Masters in Business Administration to figure it out (although that might be helpful to one’s career!).

Just take a look around. Check out the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. And the troublemakers.

They’re the ones that really make the world magic.