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Accepting Who You Are, Beats Fitting In

Accepting ourselves brings about more change than trying to fit in.

When you feel a part of something with other people around you, it means you don’t have to change.

The opposite is that it is always easier to fit in. It means you don’t need to do anything to challenge the status quo. To progress, you go along with the crowd. You accept what everyone else does.

My Journey Of Being Part Of The Crowd

For much of my professional life, I sought to fit in. 

Looking back now, the reason was to have a sense of worth.

Networking events 

When I first set up my business, to be accepted meant I attended various networking events. The focus was to sit at tables with strangers and find ways to convert strangers to leads. Formats were the same: standing, food, presentation, selling and I accepted this as the norm. Liam Toms says, ‘There’s something eerie about walking into a room of people who look and act the same.’

Industry conformity 

As I found my feet with my professional direction, I fit within the content marketing space and the need to be accepted. I published a book in 2015, called The Content Revolution, which led to international travel and recognition, so far so good, that box was ticked.

Industry rhetoric 

Much of my work when I started writing, or the services I delivered was intended to fit in with the industry. Everything had a marketing slant, but it didn’t look and feel different to anything else that people were delivering. Want to set up Facebook ads, let’s do that. Want to have a website, let’s make that. My perspective was very much similar to what else was out there. The topic was ‘marketing,’ it was easier to keep in that lane.

Local integration 

When I moved back to my local area to set up my business, I joined groups and attended events to be liked. I vividly recall writing press releases for a local business group, in the hope of being part of the gang, but the gang didn’t accept me.

I share these examples to highlight my time and effort trying to change myself to fit in. 

The more you persist with something that you own and are responsible for, such as a side project, the more you choose to stop conforming and learn to be true to yourself. 

You invest your name, reputation, and effort into something that reflects more of who you are, rather than just being part of an industry or conforming to what people have accepted for years.

Turning points should be intended to heighten the ability to accept ourselves. 

A Turning Point To Me

Brené Brown stated, “The opposite of belonging is fitting in.” This idea resonates with my experiences and the ethos of YATM. 

If existing spaces don’t support your values, create your own.

YATM events, starting in 2016. They were my response to everything that made me uncomfortable – exclusion, selling over getting to know people better, hierarchy over doing more as a team. Over time, these events became a celebration of authenticity and a space for people who choose to accept themselves.  

To others observing, much of our actions may seem absurd. However, that’s because it was never meant for them.I accept that a business event with crowd surfing, a conference format with mass hugging, or world-record attempts at lunches can be seen as childish. It doesn’t fit the box of how we should behave at work events. 

For those who participate, it’s a celebration of connecting with others who are like them and accepting themselves. It’s for those who strive to be true to themselves and want to achieve more by embracing who they are.

The world needs more misfits, it doesn’t need more people to walk the middle path.

The Misfit identity

Sometimes, we hold back and present a version of ourselves to fit in, which often means we fit badly. Standing out and accepting ourselves can be a trickier path to follow, but rewarding for the long term.

This is what being a misfit represents—not conforming to norms and expectations.

It means not following a set of rules that people have always followed. 

It also means discipline to see ideas through and to nurture, rather than falling back into common behaviours. 

It means you make that first step and never look back at the way it was always done.

For instance, there is a serious reason we have challenges at our YATM Lunch Club events. 

The reason is that it’s there as an icebreaker within the first 10 minutes. It’s for people who haven’t been before, our way to know that everyone is joining in together. Everyone is tuned into someone achieving a task. From the most PostIt notes you can stick on your face, to the quickest way to unravel a toilet roll with one hand, it’s about two sides of the room. One to cheer and the other to do something that is more about accepting the fun side of who we are. 

This is why we keep going with these small ways of everyone being a part of the moment. For us, the moment is breaking a World Record. If it’s worth doing, you keep going.

This represents what it means to fit in or belong, with other people around you.

Fitting in = ceasing the things where you let go 

Belonging = doing more of the things with the people who accept you as you are

It’s the moment when you feel comfortable with the people you want to be with, rather than worrying about fitting in.

It takes time to get there, but creating a space where you and others can truly belong means you are always at the wheel where a reset has happened but you want to progress and find ways to heighten people to more more of themselves. 

It takes small steps. For instance, when we started the YATM Lunch Clubs it was food and then an interview with a guest. This fitted a similar format that many people have done for decades. The more you stick with something, the more you learn from it and make iterations with the people who choose to step into the arena with you. Over time, it starts to reflect the values of the group and not the person.

Fitting In vs Accepting You, How You Can Frame Your Side

It might seem easier to fit in, and to go along with the crowd, but that doesn’t build trust or make you memorable. It simply makes you easy to overlook.

If you want to make an impact, you must overcome the fear of being different. 

Identify your fears, understand their tone, and overcome the resistance to change. We shouldn’t have to sacrifice our true selves or our beliefs. Instead, we want to be in a place where we’re accepted for who we are, where our authenticity is valued and supported

Standing out is not without its challenges. Stand out too much and you risk being seen as foolish or careless. Read this article that can help called, how to unleash your fun side without losing credibility.

The bold idea you want to work may take years to get there. However, fitting in is a short-term strategy that gets you nowhere. Being more you takes guts and pays off in the long run.

When it comes to feeling a part of something where you are more you, fill in the spaces:

I’m someone who enjoys _____.

I prefer hanging out with people who _____.

I feel more comfortable around those who _____.

I hope people would appreciate me, even if I ______.

My interests might not be for everyone, but I enjoy discussing _____ with others.

Misfits Welcome

Misfits are always welcome in the YATM space. It’s about celebrating people who don’t try to fit in but are true to themselves.

Jon Jenkins says, ‘I am a misfit and proud of it but it took for depression to take a hold before realising that I was seeking recognition and acceptance in the wrong places. The only acceptance you need is your own. You are the only person you have to live with the rest is a choice.’

Ella Orr highlights, ‘I’ve realised it takes a lot more courage to not fit in. I’m happy now because I’m doing what I want to do in the way I want to do it. It’s not selfish. I know that my family, friends and peers see I’m a much better person when I’m happy. Call it authenticity (I know that word makes people feel icky) but it matters for self-fulfilment.’

Imogen Jones says, ‘I did ok at school, I “fitted in” did as I was told – but think of the self-esteem and self-worth if we could find a way for everyone to get the best out of themselves.’

Natalia DaCosta points out, ‘At some point, you come to realise there is a machine at work, greater than the individual, which wants conformity to someone else’s idealism and which also pummels out of us, the very thing that makes us unique. 

The people who are not conforming are the people who champion difference and acceptance. The beauty of finding spaces where we can do that is, we gather a multi-dimensional way of being and thinking…outside of the box!!’

Let’s Round-Up 

When you find or create a space where you can be yourself, you will build genuine connections and lasting trust.

If you can’t find the right community for you, build it.

Your struggle to fit in can help you stand out. It was never about conforming to how an industry behaves but about creating a space where you—and others—can truly belong.

The journey might be challenging, but the reward is to live a more fulfilling and impactful life.

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