Fitting in isn’t everything

Graphic by Fani Hseih
Graphic by Fani Hseih

In your university career, you will rarely find yourself fitting in perfectly with the rest of your peers, never experience the sensation of isolation or not find yourself questioning your whole entire life.

Frankly, it’s nearly impossible to “fit in,” whatever that even means. I wouldn’t know, I never really did. It wasn’t until very recently that I decided that was actually a good thing.

When you were applying to university, filling out that extensive supplementary application or trying to sound super deserving for a scholarship, what was the most repeated and stressful advice your high-school guidance department or siblings alike gave you?

“You have to make sure you stand out.”

Either you did a really good job faking your layered and matured personality or you really are unique. I believe you’re the latter. No two people have had the same life, same experiences, same company, same priorities, same financial situation, same family dynamic or same strengths and weaknesses to be alike. That’s why we all, somewhere deep, are different from the dude sitting beside you in Orientation Week.

Stop caring about what other people think of you.

Welcome to university, my friend. If you are anything like me a year ago, you are literally putting all your time and energy into smiling when you miss home or laughing at everything everyone says, even though you didn’t even hear them with all the noise inside your head.

You’re picking up every damn laptop sticker from every club booth, hoping that will get you noticed.  You’re putting your all into making friends and in efforts to fit in.

I get it. New place, new experiences, new life. You have to survive. To do that, you think you have to conform. Do you want to know the real, proven and ever lasting way to make friends? Stand out and make the best of this new journey?

Stop caring about what other people think of you.

As Mark Manson so eloquently said in his very influential article The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, the people who are the most admirable are those who don’t give a fuck about embarrassment or fitting in. They only give a fuck about important things, so then people give a fuck about them in return.

It was the last week of second semester in my first-year. I had never been more relieved and stressed at the same time. I stared at the three fat F grades that I had somehow managed to earn.

All the ‘he said, she said’, all the ‘swipe left, swipe right’ and all the ‘why don’t I fit in’ didn’t seem all that significant anymore. I had cared too much about the things that didn’t matter and cared too little about the things that did matter: my grades, my real friends, my values, my goals, myself.

I know it’s so much easier said than done, but there’s people who give a fuck about your experience, like me. So use us to your advantage and remember not only who you are, but also who you want to be.

You have to walk away from the expectation that you have to get things right on the first try.

You should be spending time with yourself, trying to become better, not bitter and spending your time like you should your flex dollars: carefully and steadily.

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