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What to do if you feel like you don't fit in

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Your friends are changing

Remember when you were really young and assumed that your secondary school BFF would be in your life forever? If that’s the case, congrats on the long-lasting friendship. But know that it’s also very common for people to drift apart as time passes. So if you feel on the outside of your usual friend group, it might be a sign that your dynamics are naturally changing and you’re in the market for new pals whose lives better match your own.

You haven't found your people

If you feel like a stranger at work or live on the periphery of your friend group, it could be that you haven’t found the right community for you. It is recommended for you to reflect on what you prioritise in relationships, whether that’s by yourself or with the help of a therapist. Once you have a clear idea of who you are and what you want, the friendships will come in time.

This isn't the social environment for you

Sometimes being in the wrong setting is to blame for your struggles. For example, if you prefer to have one-on-one conversations with lots of eye contact and few interruptions, a massive party might not be your ideal forum for social connection. If the atmosphere doesn’t suit your social preferences, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you - it just might signal that you’re better suited to a different environment.

You aren't opening up

Feeling part of a group isn’t just about meeting people you like. It also requires people to open up to each other, and if that isn’t happening then it can be hard to connect. Sometimes this is easier said than done if you tend to be more shy or private. But you don’t have to change who you are or pretend to be something you’re not to forge those connections - it’s just about being a little more open a little more often.

You're painfully shy

Being shy might make it hard to meet people in big groups, so maybe try to stick to smaller group settings when you can. That being said, if there are certain people you feel more shy around than others, this might help you better understand the people who are “your people” versus the ones who aren’t.

You aren't listening carefully

Connection is a two-way street. You talk a bit, your friend talks a bit, and the dynamic stays relatively balanced. So if you feel disconnected from those around you even though you’re confident in a social setting, that could be a sign that you need to listen more.

You have social anxiety

If you constantly struggle with that tension of feeling left out, you may actually have social anxiety. If you suspect you’re dealing with more than the usual jitters, it is recommended for you to go to therapy to get help and find ways to cope with your anxiety.

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