Have you ever felt like you just don’t fit in? You’re too outgoing for this group, too introverted for this group, too tall, too short, too conservative, too loose, too quiet, too loud, too quirky, too serious, too virtuous, too wild, too hard working, too spiritual, ……. Anyone?
I can remember feeling this way many times even dating back to when I was a teenager. I wanted to be included but I didn’t want to do the things it took to be included so I felt on the outside. Recently one of my children came home from school with tears with the same struggle. She doesn’t want to do the things that it would take to be a part of the popular group but being excluded is painful too. Have you ever felt that way? If you’re reading this, chances are you are a leader in one area or another. What I find with leaders is that they are willing to stand on their own and make those hard decisions but at the end of day we are all wired for community with others and it can hurt our feelings to not be invited or included in certain social groups or events. We want to find that special friend or two, but it can be very difficult to find others with our shared values, goals, dreams, likes, ambition level, etc. We often don’t need, or even want, a large group of friends, just one or two loyal and trusted ones. While we are in middle school and high school it can seem paramount that we “fit in” but many still struggle with it as we age even it it has lessened in intensity or frequency.
So how do we combat this? As a leader you must remind yourself that you have been set apart. You’ve been called to lead and that is unique in and of itself. There’s a saying that, it’s lonely at the top. I have personally experienced that to be true at times. On the other hand, I have found that the relationships, while there may be fewer of them they are deeper. For most of us, wouldn’t that be our preference anyway? A handful of deep, personal relationships versus many superficial ones. We long for a few relationships where we can be fully ourselves and let our light shine without worrying about being too much of anything. A few relationships where there’s no explanation needed when we’re choosing a night in to rest after a long week or to put our head down and get that big project done. Relationships where we can be silly and loud and then quiet and understood with no words needed. It’s easy to get sucked in, especially with social media, to feeling like we should be a part of the group. Resist the temptation of feeling that you don’t “fit in.” You wouldn’t really be happy there anyway. You were made to soar. Embrace your gift and pray for a wonderful inner circle of deep relationships and go on leading.