Being on the outside

My search for meaningful connection

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Recently I was trying to describe to someone what it felt like to be an outsider - to not know where (or how) I fit in.

I found it really difficult to put that into words.

It was like trying to explain how it feels to make a cup of tea or to have the hair colour that I have. How do you do that? It is what it is. I don't really know any different. I've not experienced anything else. It's a part of me.

But as I thought about it more, I realised that's not exactly true. Because making a cup of tea and having the hair colour that I have feels normal. It's comfortable. It feels okay.

Not belonging doesn't feel okay.

So I'm going to have another go at trying to explain it.

What does it feel like to be an outsider? The only way I can describe it is by saying it's as if I'm standing behind a sheet of glass looking at what's going on around me, watching everyone have fun. I want to join in but I can't because I don't quite know where I fit in. There doesn't seem like a place where I naturally belong.

Sometimes it feels comfortable to stay behind the glass. There's no risks or dangers behind there.

But it also means missing out on so much. It can feel exhausting because I'm constantly trying to find new ways to break through the glass.

Every now and then I do succeed in getting through. And that feels wonderful. For a short time I feel like I'm a part of things.

But it doesn't last for very long. I find myself firmly back behind the glass at some point. It's partly my own fault - maybe it's the introvert in me. Or perhaps it's the other things that feature strongly in my life (OCD, depression, social anxiety) that pull me back as if I'm on an elasticated leash that only goes so far before it pings back.

But there are many other times when I know it's not down to me. Sometimes I simply don't know why it happens.

I'll feel like I've started to make some good connections with people, that I'm part of a group, whether that's a group of friends, colleagues or family members. But then something happens - and there could be any number of reasons for it, but I find soon myself back behind the glass. People meet other people, they get new jobs, they have kids, we discover we don't have as much in common as we originally thought or that I don't fit in, or quite simply, cliques form (what's that all about?!).

Life moves on. People move on.

I don't like failure. I never have done - in fact someone once bought me a mug with the words, 'Failure is not an option'. I love that mug.

More importantly it's a value that is key for me - to feel like I really belong.

So I don't feel comfortable with not being able to connect and fit in somewhere. I mean really fit in. In fact it's really pretty annoying! Yes, that's a good way of describing it. Annoying. Maybe I'll use that in future.

That feeling of overall annoyance probably explains why I'm writing this blog. Maybe it's a final attempt to shatter that glass once and for all. Permanently.


The Connected Outsider

I have always felt like an ‘outsider’ in life for a number of reasons, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realise just how many other women feel this way. I recently turned forty which has forced me to do something about this, and my blog posts tell the story about my search for meaningful connections – not just with other people, but also with myself and even the world around me.


Go to the profile of Nicola Laverack
over 3 years ago

Hi Connie, id love to know how you are getting on as i see you wrote this back in 2016. I cried when i read this as this describes me too. I just feel so stuck sometimes. A lovely honest article, thank you. Nikki