Don’t try to fit in.
These photos are really special to me. They remind me of everything I don’t want to be. Clicked at a couple of those ‘cool’ birthday parties we had in school, where you’d hope and pray you were invited. Luckily, I was invited. And some of my closest friends weren’t (that made it even more special). At the time, I’d do anything to fit in, to be just as cool, sophisticated, well-spoken and all that jazz. Of course, I was miserable at it. I spoke broken English and I dressed like a cartoon. But I tried my best. I mean, it was an upgrade in my head. One I had to earn by being someone else. So, I tried to fit in.
Fast forward to 2020, and I am not in touch with almost any of these folks in the pictures. The ones I am in touch with are the idiots who weren’t invited to those parties. My best friends from school. Who didn’t fit in. Who didn’t want to fit in.
The people in these photos were (and are) all good people. They never asked me to do what I did. They may not even know what impact all of this had on me. And I am confident that they are doing amazing things in their lives. But wait. Then, why is this story important?
It is important because it taught me the most valuable lesson of my life. DO NOT TRY TO FIT IN. It made my life toxic. It made me look down upon myself, feel insufficient, lost and also made me ill-treat those who were further away from this ‘benchmark’. I ended up with no identity at all. Because I had left who I was behind, not realizing that I could never make it to the ‘top’ either.
When this reality hit me, I felt agitated and frustrated with myself. I didn’t recognize myself anymore. But I did make one little promise to myself: I will be myself, no matter what it takes.
Of course, I have made bigger mistakes ever since and have lost many people along the way. But I have always known myself, what I stand for, who I want to be, what I want to wear, what I want to voice and have also been sure of what tribe I want to attract. It has ensured that I don’t live a life of regret or pretense and it has also allowed me to be in the company of some wonderful people who have loved me for who I am. And that more than makes up for those who might hate or despise me. Plus, they can never make me want to fit in, because I am happy.
I am sharing this because all of us, every now and then, need to be reminded of this. We need to be told that we are enough, that we deserve, that we are amazing. It prevents us from getting caught up in the vicious circle of seeking validation from those who are not like us, who, at times, divide us, condescend us, ill-treat us or just out-caste us.
I may be weird, arrogant, boring, stupid or just annoying, but I am proud of it because I am exactly who I want to be. And if I have made you feel insufficient or ill-treated you for not being ‘up to the mark’, I couldn’t be more sorry. And I truly hope people like me won’t decide how you look at yourself. Be you.