Isn’t Fitting In Really Hard Sometimes?

IMAG0468Here’s the truth about us.  We want to be liked.  We always want to be liked.  We always, at all times, in every situation, want everyone to think the absolute best of us, period. Most of us understand and have learned to live with the fact that we will not be liked by everyone though.  We know that we’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.  What really seems to motivate us then, is that we don’t want to be disliked by anyone – ever!  Why do we want this so badly?  Why do we expend so much effort to be so pleasing to everybody?

We seem to be engineering ourselves toward what we perceive as the “middle ground”.  The place where we draw neither derision or praise.  We call it fitting in.  I think it’s because when you really look at it, fitting in isn’t really as much for being liked as it is for not being disliked.  We don’t want to draw negative attention to ourselves or be on the receiving end of other people’s scorn or contempt.  While we deeply want to be loved and accepted, we will settle for being ignored and not persecuted.  This, however, is a big problem!

Here’s a little secret about most people.  Even when they have the time to think about you, they probably aren’t.  Dale Carnegie said it like this, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”  People are almost always thinking about themselves and what’s important to them.  They spend their time working out personal problems or deciding the next move.  They are in all likelihood, not thinking of you or me at all.

Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.  – Dale Carnegie

Several years ago I went to lunch with a couple of friends. It was a buffet so we were all up filling our plates and I was the last person to come back to our table.  When I went to sit down, I nearly fell out of the other side of the chair.  I don’t know what happened, I mean, I sit down regularly.  I’m fairly practiced at it.  Don’t ask me how on this day, in front of all of these wonderful people out here eating lunch, I decide to forget how to sit down.  Anyway, my friends got a pretty good laugh out of it and when I finally looked up to view the crowd in the restaurant, no one was looking at me anymore.  They gave me about a second and a half of their busy time and then went on about their way.  Most of them were probably just glad it wasn’t them that goofed up that day.  I’m reasonably confident that everyone in the place could identify with how I felt.  This experience helped me. My comedy event was like a rubber ball that hit the attention of everyone in the place, and just like a rubber ball, it bounced right off again.

We all have a mask.  We call it our “normal”.  We put it on when we think the social situation requires it.  The truth is though that the “normal” is not normal.  It rarely represents who a person really is.  I tell my daughters that normal is what a person is until you get to know them.  I know that there are things about me that you may not think are normal.  Most of us are like that.  I say “most” because I have met the rare individual who really is genuine and what you see is what you get.  For the rest of us, we spend bucket loads of effort trying to get positive attention or at the very least, no negative attention in order to have some peace in our life.

The problem with our little personal conformity project is that by forming ourselves to be liked by everyone, we’re engineering out of ourselves the things that make us unique and awesome!  I was watching a documentary about Henry Ford a few days ago. He revolutionized manufacturing with the idea of forming the assembly line for making automobiles.  He got the idea from the meat processing industry.  He was able to increase production of the Model T by something like 1,200 %.  One of the things that stood out to me about Henry Ford’s thinking was that, in order to make the system successful, the parts had to be manufactured consistently and interchangeably, but so did the workers.  The system had to be engineered so that employee Bob could do employee Mike’s job if employee Mike called in sick.

The industrialization of the country created a system of thinking where it was important to fit in.  We’ve all been taught to conform very easily.  Seth Godin said it best when he said “The reason that they want you to fit in is that once you do, then they can ignore you”.  What do you think about that?  I think it’s true.  Mass marketing was created to appeal to a mass of people who all think the same way and like the same things.  Going back to Henry Ford as our example, we see that Henry Ford was not like all of the men he hired.  He was different.  He had vision and drive and a willingness to let the things that made him remarkable be the things that defined him.  Instead of trying to conform, he was using his unique gifts to stand out and be set apart.

The reason that they want you to fit in is that once you do, then they can ignore you.  – Seth Godin

You and I are remarkable and have unique things about us too.  The bible says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  Instead of working so hard to suppress the things about you that make you who you are, leverage those things to reach into lives and help others.  You have suffered. You have lost. You have been victorious.  You have experienced trials and hardships in your life that make you uniquely qualified to speak into the lives of certain people in this world and help them.  This means that a hug from you can do more to minister healing to certain people than a hug from me would.  You are a divine gift to the world.  There are people that you are meant to love, help and lives that you are meant to touch and change .  Don’t cheat those people and sell them short by hiding your gifts or failing to act.

I want to encourage you today to stand up and let your scars be seen.  In a court room a testimony is a first person account of what happened by someone who was there and witnessed something .  In our walk, our testimony is our first person account of what God has done in our lives.

These are important for others to see because –

  1. It’s encouraging to others. People need to see that God is actively working in the lives of people who trust Him.
  2. It shows what’s possible to those who don’t know.  Many people haven’t read the bible and don’t know what’s on the menu – what’s available to them.
  3. It’s really hard to argue with and disprove your first hand account.  Discouragers and hard hearted people may try to argue with you but they are too late…you were there!

Are you ready to step up?  Someone out there is emotionally bleeding out and they need you to step up.  It’s time to take your place and do what you were uniquely designed to do!  It doesn’t have to be some earth shaking thing, just do something.  Start your forward motion and see what God does with it.  Look what He did with a little boy’s lunch.

Refuse to wait for others to recognize your potential.  Slip your life out of neutral into drive, you will be surprised where it will take you.  –  Doug Jones.

I want to take a line and just express my appreciation for you all.  I love you guys.  Thank you for reading my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Responses to Isn’t Fitting In Really Hard Sometimes?

  1. Deborah says:

    This really touched my heart. I do not want to hide from the hurts that I have been through, but to be that someone who will speak out and be who God created me to be. I want to have the confidence to speak out and encourage those who may be going through similar things. So thank you for writing this today Art.

    • Art says:

      Deb, There are loads of people out there just hurting, and your story would resonate with them. They are waiting for you. Thank you for reaching out.

  2. Mary says:

    True. No one thinks about us as much as we think about ourselves. Everyone wants noticed for who we are and what we are doing – our own uniqueness; and at the same time want to fit in. However if we are all alike – then what is there to be noticed?

    • Art says:

      Funny isn’t it? If we abandon the idea of fitting in and instead decide to stand up and use our life to help others, we end up finding our place, our friends and our very life. God is good. Thank you for commenting Mary!

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