If you're anything like me you'll have tried to stand out and probably experienced that tumbleweed of silence and blank faces moment. Going against the social norm can be a lonely place to be, after all we are a pack animal at heart, designed to operate together. In Stone Age times the outcasts and those on the fringes were the most vunerable to predictors. Standing out as unique goes against the very fabric of our being so to purposefully put ourselves out there on the fringes in that vulnerable position yet stand tall and strong is naturally a tough thing to do.
I saw this quote a while ago and I love it. I think it says so much about how it feels when you've tried standing on those fringes for a while...exhausting!!!
Sometimes I also feel like I don't fit in. I don't particularly drink alcohol, which in today's society makes most people think I'm odd, I also have an allergy to dairy so eating out in social groups is most often an awkward experience. I grew up in a small English country village so my job to most of my family and friends is weird. They are all so lovely though, they try and converse but you can see in their faces they just don't get it. I can literally be standing in a room full of people, trying my best to have a good time and yet feel like it's the loneliest place on earth.
But this blog isn't all about doom and gloom, or about saying don't be you......don't stand out etc it's actually quite the opposite. It's about knowing you have a choice and knowing it's ok.
I've learnt a lot over the years about the art of communication through my NLP studies and I know just how impactful body language and matching is to any conversation. This is the art of building rapport and of you don't have that conversations can be stifled and lack genuine connection. But I think the toughest question is when do you mould your communication to build better rapport with someone and when do you accept that person/people just aren't your kind of people and go find someone who is??? I still feel I don't always get this right even after over 4 years of practise but I'm certainly getting a lot better.
Even though people can say it's ok to be different, they have no problems that you're unique and quirky, deep down in the fundamentals of human nature it does matter, people naturally behave and react like it matters, there's a disconnect which just feels awkward. Only when you feel a true connection with someone (usually because they are like you) will you feel comfortable. I think the key to not feeling lonely in a crowded room is actually accepting that feeling of disconnect as OK.......
It's ok if the conversation is a little awkward, it's ok if you don't feel you fit with that group, it's ok if not everyone gets you......sometimes you spend time in a group of people who are in total harmony with you and other times you have to do your best in a less than perfect situation. That doesn't mean, they hate you, it doesn't mean you don't have something valuable to share it just means you're a little different to them and that's ok. It may take a little more effort on your part to get your point across but that doesn't mean you're any less worthy.
Being accepting of yourself in this way takes practise and from personal experience I think it's a lifelong quest. My biggest tip so far......try to step back and realise when it's best to spend time with your tribe who truly get you and when you need to mould your communication style around others to build better rapport. Trust me you will not always get it right but the quicker you learn that that is ok the faster you'll stop beating yourself up because you feel lonely.
I hope that helps........
So, cheers to all you loners, misfits and oddballs who bravely champion your own inner weirdness and boldly stand on the fringes of normal.....I salute you!!!! Stay standing strong and no matter how lonely it gets, it's ok,,,,,,,there's a whole army of us, who feel just the same.
Until next time.
PS. For those who are interesting in knowing more about how to mould your communication style and being more confident in conversations with others there's lots more info in my free Confidence and Fear video series.