“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.” – Zen Shin
In the past, I often felt like I didn’t belong in groups of women.
Sometimes I felt I had something wrong with me. Like I’d been othered one way or the other: too sporty. Too quiet. Too serious.
Sometimes I felt that something was wrong in all of them. Girls’ nights and bachelorette parties? The loud laughter, the screaming voices, and the boring conversations about lip injections, skin care routines or makeup? No thanks.
I wanted so badly to belong but didn’t see a place for myself. I felt like I wasn’t doing the whole woman thing the right way. I liked hanging out with guys more.
What now? I’ve learned that there is nothing wrong with you or me, and spending time with women makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.
What shifted in the sand?
First, I stopped comparing my life to others.
Those “toos” I mentioned above, and that so many of us feel, are usually a product of that ever so insidious trap of comparison. It’s a trap because we get stuck in a negative thought loop, smothered by jealousy, anxiety, and self-criticism, which ultimately causes a fissure of separation, between ourselves and others.
If we use other people and external standards as a barometer, we will always find ourselves being “too” something, which makes for a very disruptive and tumultuous internal experience. It means I’ve spent years feeling uneasy and out of touch with who I am. It means I often acted as a chameleon and changed my energy based on who I was around, so I could “fit in.”
But now, I don’t do that. Okay, I still do this sometimes, but it’s much less frequent. I have learned that there is no “right” way to be a woman, or a human. We are all unique individuals, with unique personalities, desires and fears. This makes us unique and makes the world beautiful.
Second, I moved away from judgement and towards curiosity.
During my teenage years, I made many judgments. I went from believing that there was something wrong with me, to thinking I was better than the other women. I thought women were too focused on superficial people and things. I started creating stories that separated me from them: they wanted to gossip loudly, talk about boys, and discuss makeup.
Now, instead of judging the “surface level” conversations (which still occur), I am curious about them.
Why do women spend so many hours discussing their weight, clothing, waxing practices, and skin-care rituals? We are conditioned to believe we are not good enough the way we look. We are told to buy this product or that if we wish to look beautiful. We are told that we must be thin to be loved. So it’s no wonder we spend so much time thinking and talking about matters of physical appearance.
After switching from judgment to curiosity, I realized that these conversations are not just superficial. These discussions are a reflection of deep-seated desires to belong to, be loved and accepted.
Thirdly, I lowered my ego.
My ego told myself that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. That I was unique in my feeling like I didn’t belong. That I was special in some way because I wanted to have “deeper” conversations. This is utter nonsense!
I have now learned that I was in no way unique in feeling like I didn’t belong. Most women, and people, yearn to peel back the layers and connect with one another in a deep, rich way, but we find ourselves stuck in a performative role, trying to show up how society has told us to.
Many of us have built walls around our bodies, minds and hearts to protect the sensitive, vulnerable parts of ourselves. To protect the parts of us that we learned weren’t safe to express or were unlikeable. We want to let other people in.
Finally, I started to pay attention to the wise counsel of philosophers and religious leaders as well as laypeople throughout history.
I began to heed their wisdom which can be summarized as: You have everything you need inside you.
I began to connect with myself. I knew that I could only solve the problem, which was the feeling of not belonging and being treated differently, by turning inward. I’ve deepened my connection to myself through dance, breathwork, journaling, meditating, and playing. My journey has led me to discovering who I am – and what I want to become – rather than trying fit into the mold of what a woman – or a person – should be.
As I’ve learned to release comparison, ignite curiosity, demolish my ego and turn inwards, I’ve also discovered that:
You do not have to be anything.
This does not imply that you’re perfect, or have no opportunity to grow. But it does mean that there is no “right” way to be, except the way that is true and safe for you.
Often when people say you are “too ___,” it is a reflection of their own insecurities.
“You are too emotional” might mean, “I have not learned to express my emotions, and your vulnerability makes me uncomfortable.” “You are too loud” might mean, “I am not fully expressing myself, and I am jealous of your ability to express yourself confidently.”
Your desire to belong is not unique.
You are not alone in what you feel. Remembering this helps you to realize that you’re not alone. It is through the journey of self-discovery that we can experience a feeling of connectedness. We begin to realize our shared fears, desires, and feelings. You know how it goes, we’re all made of stardust, baby!
When you start to express the truest parts of yourself, it’s an act of leadership.
You are essentially giving others permission to do the exact same thing. This doesn’t mean you expect everyone to express themselves in the same way as you, but rather that we all start to express the weird, unique, quirky, true parts of ourselves. This is exactly what the world requires.
So, here’s to less judgment, more curiosity; less separateness, more connectedness; less fear, more love.
About Teresa Towey
Teresa Towey has been a mentor and coach for women since 2003. Teresa curates individual and group spaces to guide you in breaking free from societal expectations about what you “should” do, so you start doing what you want, and are free to express the most wild and creative parts of you. Follow her on Instagram and her website. Click this link to book a free consultation!
Join the conversation! Click here to comment on this site.
The post How to Stop Feeling There Is Something Wrong With You appeared first on Tiny Buddha.