The Struggle to Belong…or not!

“The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.”

Albert Einstein

For many years, I thought it was just me who was “different”. Didn’t fit in or go with the flow. Of course, I knew I was different, and even had scientific evidence to prove it. Moreover, I’m “creative”  which automatically lands you in a classification all of your own. We’re automatically assumed to be “weirdos”.

At times, I’ve tried to conform, or simply conform enough. However, the older I get and with a burning sense that life is short, I can’t be bothered anymore. You can like me, or lump me. I’m not going to play to your tune.

However, is being myself and not being part of the crowd such a bad thing? Is being authentic actually more important than conforming?

I guess it depends on who you ask.

Today, I was reminded of these tensions when I recommended a favourite book of mine, Shel Silverstein’s: The Missing Piece.  It’s been animated here and it is really cute, as well as making some strong philosophical points… Maybe we need to be a bit rough around the edges. Perhaps, being a seeker interacting with and absorbing a full  smorgasbord of life, is better than being fat dumb and happy on the couch.

“A man on his deathbed or after he has been snubbed by his wife may enjoy a few moments of solitude, the rest of his life is a noisy gregariousness. He fears solitude as a child fears the dark, indeed it is a universal dread which one must learn to conquer. A poet learns his lesson generally by finding himself early in life shunned, he is odd. `Why was I born with a different face?’ Blake asked. Genius is fundamentally odd and men hate the exceptional.”

-Jack Butler Yeats

Edward Hopper room-in-new-york

Edward Hopper, A Room In New York.


Another thing that got me thinking lately, is that I’ve been hearing loads of people from all different walks of life talking about how they don’t fit in.  Have been the outsider. Experienced some kind of difference between them and the mainstream. Indeed, I’ve heard this so often lately, that I’ve actually wondered whether anyone feels like they truly belong. Indeed, is this sense of not belonging, of feeling different, something that affects the majority and not just the fringe?

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Apple Inc.

I don’t know. However, I’d like to find out and that’s why I’ve posed this question to you: Do you feel like you belong? Or, do you feel different or unique in some way that shuts you out?

Michelangelo The Creation of Adam close up

Michelangelo, The Creation of Adam (close-up)

As for myself, I’m simply starting to believe that I see the world differently, and that’s okay. That I have a way of seeing in between the lines, that has something to offer others whatever that might be. At the same time, I can miss things that are like neon signs to other people. However, that’s why we have community, because each of us has their own unique perspective, and I guess we’re all meant to come together to form a whole. However, too often, people ostracize and ridicule those who see things differently from themselves, instead of embracing their perspective and working out how it could contribute to the dialogue. It’s a pity.

“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.”

–  Oprah Winfrey

There is also value in being your own person, and not just merging in with the crowd. Of not being afraid to stand in your own space, stand up tall, spread your wings and not apologize for being there. Each of us deserves that.

Edward Hopper nighthawks

Edward Hopper, Night Hawks

I’m not sure if all these thoughts have joined together in any kind of cohesive whole. If I was someone else, I’d have my list of points and might even be telling you how it is. However, I am more of a seeker. Somebody who is seeing dim shadows and shapes through the fog and trying to make sense of it all. Trying to make sense of what I think is an important consideration…Does anyone feel like they truly belong in  our modern civilization? That’s probably putting it too strong, but you get my drift and I’m truly interested to read your feedback.

So, I’ll leave you know with the thoughts of Aslan:

“Don’t doubt your value. Don’t run from who you are.”

Best wishes,




7 thoughts on “The Struggle to Belong…or not!

  1. Gary A Wilson

    Oh Rowena….
    What have you done?
    The questions you pose don’t have traditional answers and the only answers that would have credibility would look more like lively analysis.
    Truly – such matters need to be discussed over something a tad stronger than coffee. Maybe a single glass of a very good sharp Chianti.
    “fitting in” is more of a measure of comfort than of what is needed or what may be desired by God for the benefit of either parties.
    If we’re only going for comfort, then we’re missing a much more important dynamic.
    If I need to grow in some area but am lost with only my own resources but you know how to nudge me in the right direction – then our comfort should be secondary behind my need or God’s will.

    So I can’t isolate myself without running the risk of cutting everybody off from gifts I may have that they need – or vice versa.

    And if I always “fit in” that alone may cost me the leverage needed to catalyze growth in others.

    Okay. I’ll stop now, except to say if you ever come through Northern California a good glass of Chianti will be on me.

  2. TanGental

    I’m me. Sometimes that’s v traditional and fits a mold, a stereotype and sometimes I’m away with whatever are the fairies du jour. But that still makes al, the bits that are me, me. So it is for everyone. I think, actually, your question is perhaps redundant. Just because someone is contrarian to a perceived norm – father or employee let’s say doesn’t mean they don’t fit in as Arsenal supporter or reader of poetry. And on the surface you might confirm tona ‘mum’ stereotype But inside think like a cantankerous loon. And that changes hourly, daily, moment by moment. You say you’re odd, out of step. But do you type with your hands, hold your knife in your right hand, speak understandable English, sit on a toilet? Pretty much a conformist then, at least in those areas. Everyone single one of us, even I bet identical twins, have different thoughts at different times. We are all weird and we all fit together. It’s all rather lovely, actually.

  3. Pingback: Weekend Coffee Share… 11th June, 2018. | Beyond the Flow

  4. finkelstein

    I like the questions you pose and the discussion it starts! IMHO the less we all fit in, the better we’ll be as a group. It’s comfortable being surround with people who look, like,
    think and act the same. But we grow as individuals and as a group when mixing looks, interests, opinions and lifestyles.

  5. Rowena Post author

    I forgot all about that comfort factor of being with like-minded people. So, thanks for bringing that up. Also, you’re right about growing more in a diverse group or society.
    I thought you’d appreciate the story of my pale pink jumper. My natural colour preference is for reds, bright colours and I don’t mind something a bit flamboyant either. I’m an extrovert, and usually dress accordingly. However, I bought myself this pale pink jumper and it also has a matching beanie with a little tuft of faux fur on top, which I sometimes wear. Recently, I started seeing this jumper as a form of “camo” because it makes me look meek, mild and such a nice Mum when I actually have quite strong views. I am starting to learn about the benefits of standing back a bit and watching before I just in, which is very different for me and I’m quite enjoying it. Apparently, when my Dad first met my Mum who is quite a talker, he said that you learn more when you listen and that has stayed with me. Very good advice.
    Best wishes,

  6. finkelstein

    That is great advice from your Dad! And about that pale pink sweater… I think you would look extravertly awesome if you’d pair it with some bold red lipstick!

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