“I think fitting in is highly overrated. I’d rather just fit out… Fitting out means being who you are, even when people insist that you have to change. Fitting out means taking up space, not apologizing for yourself, and not agreeing with those who seek to label you with stereotypes.” ― Golda Poretsky
Fitting in is overrated. I finally embraced my terminal weirdness when a friend told me frankly that I will always stand out. I suddenly liked the sound of that. In the past, I would have rebelled against it because I was trying valiantly to fit in. What I discovered is even if you get really good at fitting in, whatever you think you win as a result isn’t worth it. The chameleon quality I developed was just a way to hide from the truth of who I am. And it was exhausting. So let me say this. Fitting out is hard, but fitting in is harder.
I understand what it means to stand out. It started early for me. My mom and dad—from Ecuador and Italy respectively, spoke with accents. Automatically I was weird in Midwest America’s eyes. I was raised in a conservative, homogeneous town where my perpetually olive skin made me stand out. I mostly just wanted to look like everyone else. Being soft-spoken and lacking the ironic retorts and snappy put downs didn’t help. I learned some slang at school, but my parents spoke textbook-perfect English, and demanded the same of me, so I lagged behind on common vernacular. I tired of trying to be perfect, which was often my underlying motivation for pretending to fit in. Then, I got tired of being tired. This happens when we edit away our most authentic selves. As Charles de Lint says in Happily Ever After, “We’re so quick to cut away pieces of ourselves to suit a particular relationship, a job, a circle of friends, incessantly editing who we are until we fit in.” I was a master editor.
Removing a little bit of your unique personality may not seem harmful at first. But it is a slippery slope. Soon, we have eliminated so much of who we are, that we become what I call Spiritual Amnesiacs. Unless we do the self-work of uncovering our true core identity we will feel chaotic.
Spiritual practice has taught me that a clear self-identity is an essential foundation for a happy life. Pretending to be “normal” is a formula for disappointment and unhappiness. As Maya Angelou puts it, “If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” The more authentic we are, the more we give others permission to be themselves. Ultimately, we discover that “Happiness is found in loving the truth in people.” (Robert Holden) However, we can only accept others as they are once we respect our authenticity. Finding the answer to “Who Am I” must always begin with radical self-acceptance.
The Bhagavad Gita states that a happy person follows their own path: “One’s own duty, performed imperfectly, is better than doing another’s duty perfectly.” (3.35) This means it is our responsibility to live our Sva Dharma. It is criminal to live being generic because it implies following someone else’s expectations of your Dharma. Sustainable happiness depends upon your Sva Dharma.
Love yourself, love your day, love your life!
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Daily Cup of Yoga contributor Silvia Mordini, E-RYT, retreat leader, happiness coach, and yogipreneur. Enthusiasm to love your life is contagious around Silvia. Her expert passion connects people to their own joyful potential. Silvia lives her happiness in such a big way that you can’t help but leave her classes, workshops, trainings and retreats spiritually uplifted! Born in Ecuador, raised traveling around the globe, she is an enthusiastic citizen of the world and spiritual adventurer. She has over 10,000 hours and 15 years of teaching experience, owned a yoga studio for 9 years and after being run over by a car used yoga to recover physically and emotionally. Silvia leads Alchemy Tours Yoga Retreats and Alchemy of Yoga RYT200 Yoga Teacher Training.
Silvia can be reached on the Web at www.alchemytours.com or www.silviamordini.com, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @alchemytours, @inspiredyogagal; Facebook: Silvia Mordini; YouTube: lovingyourday; Pinterest: Silvia Mordini; Intagram: alchemytours.