Last month I had the opportunity to give a toast at the rehearsal dinner of a wedding for a close friend. One of the things that I mentioned was how much I appreciated the fact that ever since I met her she has been confident in who she is and has embraced her weird. This is not something that I have always been comfortable doing.
While I love that I am able to embrace weird and wonderful me now, it does make fitting in rather challenging at times. I sometimes feel like there are very few people that truly get me. It does not make it easy to discover the few lasting, deep friendships that I long for as an introvert. It even makes interacting with acquaintances and casual friends difficult at times.
I went to an event recently that involved having to talk to people that I didn’t know. Dreaded networking, nauseating small talk and pretending to care about people that I probably won’t ever see again. Does that make me sound like an awful person? No, I’m just an introvert. An introvert with anxiety. A weird introvert with anxiety.
So the night before I started stressing about it, which lead to the usual physical suspects including TMJ and IBS (and any other acronyms that want to join the party at that point). And I didn’t sleep at all. Needless to stay by the time I arrived at the event the next morning I was not only anxious but sleep deprived (and in a generally bad mood as a result). Some days I can fake being comfortable in uncomfortable situations, but that day was not one of them. So while I tried interacting with other people, I quickly ended up sitting by myself, exhausted by the sheer volume of extroverts (or at least people that were pretending to be) in the room.
Being an INFJ
I have always felt different from other people. Not just because I’m an introvert. Not just because of the anxiety. I think it more has to do with my personality all together. When I first took a Myers Briggs personality test and got my result of INFJ some things began to make sense. It’s the most rare personality type there is. Introvert, Dear describes the personality type this way,
INFJs can be quirky, complicated, and sometimes downright contradictory. From a young age, you felt different from the people around you. Even if you had plenty of friends, you never felt like you truly fit in. Sometimes you faked being more like them so they would accept you.
Yep, even as a child I knew I was different then everyone else. I was more sensitive, I thought about things more deeply, I felt more mature then my peers. I often had difficulty making new friends and connecting with the ones that I had. I felt like my brain was in a constant battle within itself. Sometimes I thought and behaved in ways that didn’t make sense to me or seemed to contradict themselves.
But I know that INFJs are certainly far from the only people that have experienced the sensation of not fitting in.
I was a “weird” kid.
I would rather read a book then do most anything else, which didn’t make me the most exciting person to hang around. I had interests in literature, crafting, the arts, history, and traveling when most of my peers were more worried about, well teenage things.
I knew I wasn’t a typical teenager, so I poured my time at school into school work and hung out with the smart kids who I had more in common with then anyone else. But even with kids that were more nerdy and interested in some of the same things as me, there was still some disconnect. I never felt like I could be 100% myself. I had the 1 dimensional role of the bookish one assigned to me in Junior High and never was able to push past it.
I’m still a weird adult.
Not fitting in as a teenager seems to be more acceptable then as an adult. After all, you are still finding yourself, learning to feel comfortable in your own skin. As an adult, if you are still socially awkward, is it your fault? I don’t consider myself socially awkward, but I am definitely not comfortable in most social situations. I have found myself and accept myself for who I am but I am also aware that who I am doesn’t mesh well with some people.
I usually can do a pretty good job of faking it though. And in situations where I am comfortable I might even seem like an extrovert.
I acknowledge that sometimes I feel like an old person. I don’t really do bars and clubs any more. I don’t really like parties. I spend a lot of time on our couch and sleeping.
That teenager that that didn’t wear make-up or care a whole lot about clothes? Yep, that’s still me. And I still like reading a book or going to a museum over shopping or “events.”
I’m kind of quirky. I laugh really loud. I often say stuff that is a little off the wall.
Not Fitting In
I am actively letting go of perfect and embracing the quirky and unique parts of myself, and I don’t have the desire to change myself simply to fit in. I have tried it before, and it just doesn’t work. You lose sight of who you really are when you do.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t feel the loneliness of not fitting in at times, however. I’m still trying to figure out how to both embrace myself and feel like I belong.
Do you ever feel like you just don’t fit in? Like you have trouble connecting with other people because of your personality or your interests?