Elisa A. Escalante/ LMSW/ 1-11-2021
Who are you at the party? Are you the life of the party, everyone waits for you as you make your exciting late/ dramatic entrance into the room? Are you the one who comes with someone, so you are not alone? Are you the one in the corner sipping on a drink, waiting for someone to come talk to you? Are you the one that is already with a stranger, getting to know them more intimately, in another room?? Humans need to feel validated and… accepted. Regardless of what we may admit to or say out loud, every bit and piece of our history and sociology confirms that we are social creatures. We need people on a social, psychological, emotional, financial, economic level and so on. These enmeshments/bonds that we create in our lives can often foster positivity as well as deep heartbreak. It’s complicated, we are complicated.
As many times as people have died from each other’s hands due to horrific wars, community violence and so on, on some level most humans adapt to the fact that we must work together to get things done more efficiently and effectively. Our lifestyles depend on these enmeshments to go as smoothly as possible. Most people agree to adapt to the lifestyle of working for each other vs against each other, especially when we know all too well what type of tragedy a war can bring.
It’s still so hard, for many to get along. People often identify that as much commonality there is between them and others, there’s also a lot of diversity. Those moments or even chronic episodes in which we may feel that we cannot connect with another human being, no matter how hard we try. We can get emotionally ‘checked out’ due to the burden of trying to fit in to a society that often burns us. We may isolate when it feels particularly destructive, maybe convince ourselves that ‘people are not worth it anymore’, all together. Why can society sometimes make a person feel like ‘they don’t fit in’? Why do people do this to each other? Like an odd form of psychological warfare…? Also, why do we let it get to us, deep down?
What exacerbates our ‘Misfit Syndrome’?
Toxic family values/expectations – It seems so innocent, to teach our youth those cliché lines that we were fed growing up. “Be the best”, “second place is first loser”, “mind over matter”, “leave the past in the past and move on” etc. We are preparing them to be those high paced adults in a high paced environment where losing is not an option. Unfortunately, an overbearing fear of disappointing the family yet again, can contribute to anxiety and/ or ambivalence. Common cognitions can include: “Not trying is better than losing”, “no expectations means no disappointment”. If we push people too hard in the family unit, consistently act disappointed in their ‘lack of effort’ or ‘lack of achievement’, they will grow to resent us and often ‘act out’ be doing less. On the other end of the spectrum, they may foster self destructive behaviors in order to ‘people please’ the family and become overwhelmed in perfectionistic personality traits. Both ends of this spectrum are very harmful. All human’s, especially in childhood, need some gratitude and positive reinforcement/ affirmations aimed toward their efforts.
Blind eye to Bullying + consequential people pleasing/rage – Yes, there are always those kids/ adults that will take it too far. Also, yes, sometimes there are those around us who will neglect it all the while, summing it up to just ‘this is how it is’. ‘Fight back, or deal with the consequences of being a pushover.’ In addition to the toxic family values from up above, there’s also a family value of ‘toxic kindness’ with a lack of boundaries and a ‘NO EXCEPTIONS’ attitude that is instilled in some kids. Unfortunately, this could become harmful because parents may just not know what their child is up against at school and now a days, on social media. If someone is a victim of being bullied as a child, there’s a much higher chance that they will be bullied in adulthood as well. Some adults, like kids, continue bullying. What changes is the approach and tactics used. If someone falls into a school, workplace, family situation in which they are that ‘misfit’, they are susceptible to the most beat downs and therefore a chronic path toward victimhood. In some cases, it can get to a point where rage manifests and lash backs may follow.
Toxic Competition – We want to win so bad, that often we want it at the detriment of others. The idea of ‘being better’ than someone is to show it off, have some witnesses, inflate the ego and move on thinking it meant something. Whether it’s a Spelling Bee, honor roll, a sports win, a promotion over our peers, feeling like the ‘favorite’ mascot child over siblings and so on. There is a healthy way to compete, and there’s most definitely a toxic way to compete. Healthy competition involves collaboration, pushing your family member/ peer as you would want to be pushed. Knowing that the person next to you getting ‘better’, also makes you ‘better’ by default. It’s growth and taking a ‘loss’ doesn’t make you a loser. A loss is still, very much, growth.
Lifestyle Idealizations – The lifestyle that is most idealized and pushed up to the highest of pedestals, is the lifestyle we (society) must all talk about, aspire to, work toward and settle into. No questions ask! If someone has ever found themselves in a situation where people stare at them as if they ‘have two heads’ just because of something they want to do that doesn’t quite fit the norm, they know what this is about. If we are not aiming toward this ‘American Dream’ (quite dead by now) of a 40+ hour pension with healthcare and retirement plan and popping out babies to provide for and create the ‘picture perfect’ happiness that society is obsessed with, we are wrong. We may be considered a misfit, possibly mentally ill, and to be pitied and judged by those that conform to the ideal. To be healthier in this realm, it is important to remember that nothing is Universal, including our societal expectations. Often, people do not like to admit it, but they are just as clueless regarding life as you are. Period.
The reality is, it does not matter which one you are at the party, it doesn’t even matter if you decided to show up that day or not. It does not matter if you are 100% the societal norm or 100% total misfit. What matters is that you are being as genuinely close to who you want to be as possible (and trying not to hurt people to the best of your ability of course!). Why? You can lie to the world, but you cannot lie to your own mind. It wants what it wants and living anything that compromises your true need/ pursuit of happiness (again as long as you aren’t’ hurting people!!!) will harm your spirit. We need acceptance to accept ourselves and vice versa, but we also need to be around the types of people and environments that accept us, as us. This often means tailoring our crowd to fit our needs, while making boundaries with those that refuse our right to self-determination. Somewhere, and in some way, we all fit in.
2 thoughts on “Misfit”
I applaud your honesty❣️ Love the article
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Goals…of sorts. Sometimes just not enough. Understanding…all the good stuff isn’t enough. Things aren’t personal but feel personal and doesn’t seem a way around it. This too shall pass.
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