What Happens to Your Mental Health When You Stop Trying to Fit In

Student Life

High school- it’s a tricky few years that shape us into who we are. Students now more than ever struggle to find their identity and crave the feeling of “fitting in”.

You must wear what is in, you must like certain bands and you must be a clone. Why do we throw ourselves away and fake this facade just to feel the acceptance of others? You could say, it’s because everyone else is doing it, what’s so great about being like everyone else if it means losing yourself?

Why Do We Try to Fit In?

We have all been in this place at one time or another, making desperate attempts to please society and being frightened to snap out of it in case of it ruining the life you’ve built up.

Trying to fit in doesn't make you a bad person it just makes you become another person in a masquerade ball, hiding their true selves.

Whether you're buying clothes that you hate purely for the purpose that everyone's wearing them or biting your tongue on opinions that you don’t agree with, it's all solely for the purpose of fitting in. Outside of school on social media teenagers will scroll through and compare themselves to others asking questions like, "Why don’t I look like that? Why am I not good enough?" in a desperate attempt to be acknowledged as one of the “popular” kids.

What Makes “Fitting In” Damaging?

Having the mindset of seeking approval from others can be damaging especially to your mental health, self-esteem, and overall well-being.

Constantly comparing yourself and your life to others is not only degrading but can lead to severe problems. Dragging yourself down for not fitting in with your friends or classmates leads to self-destruction; not only does fitting in ruin your mental health it also takes time away from finding out who you are.

High school is a time where we are meant to figure out who we are: what we like and don’t, how we want to dress, form opinions, and transition in maturity. It’s important that you figure out these things on your own and not let anybody decide them for you because your life isn’t theirs.

How Do You Stop Trying to Fit In?

If you're stuck figuring out who you are, that’s completely normal if you're used to trying to fit in.

Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself, you might even be worried about losing social status or a group of friends but if they are truly your friends it won’t matter to them that you’ve developed your sense of style, opinions, or have different music taste.

Ditch the voice in your head that tells you not to buy something because it’s “a little different” or it’s not what anyone at school would wear. Stop worrying about what others think! It’s not like they're living your life, you are.

Allow yourself to have a carefree mindset even if you fake it till you make it, you’ll soon find that you're finding yourself.

So, What Happens If You Stop Trying to Fit In?

The day you take that step and decide to let loose and not look back will be the greatest day and weight will be lifted off your shoulders.

Take a moment to realize that your worth is not based upon how others view you and that you are your person. You’re yourself, and as cliche, as it sounds it’s a pretty amazing thing to be you because there is nobody else out there like you, someone who could conquer what you can with your potential and think as you do without the influence of anyone else.

The minute I decided to stop caring what others thought of me and focus on becoming my own person made a drastic change in my life and turned me into a happier, confident, more driven version of myself. Nobody is stopping you but yourself and sometimes that's the hardest person to please but if you push yourself to try something new and venture out into the unknown (as scary as it may sound)... you’ll realize that you aren’t a clone anymore.

But, What About Friends?

Anybody who has a problem with you spending the time figuring out who you are and having the confidence and courage to do that isn’t a friend.

True friends don’t care if you don’t meet society's standards they care about the type of person you are. Surround yourself with people who help you embrace who you are and uplift you when you're doubting yourself. Friendship does not evolve around if you do/do not look like them or have the same opinions and thoughts, otherwise, that would be a pretty boring friendship if you agreed and thought the same about everything.

Don’t surround yourself with people who’ll degrade you for wanting to change and find yourself.

The Aftermath…

Having the burden sitting on your shoulders all the time of worrying about fitting in can be draining and can turn you into an anxious and stressed-out mess, but after you take that leap it’ll be for the greater good.

A dash into the coffee shop and you see a group of girls, you aren’t dressed like them, you can’t afford the phones that they have glued to their hands but you don’t let that thought sink into your brain anymore! Your mental health will vitally improve after you stop trying to fit in, you’ll notice that it was never you that truly didn’t fit in. It was the masses of people that had hit copy and paste too many times and it will be them who will suffer an identity crisis later on in life.

Why should you continue to “fit in” when you are your own person who no longer should be holding a mask at a masquerade ball hoping to be just like everyone else?

No matter if you're rich or poor, smart or not it shouldn’t matter to others, the only person who it needs to concern is you. Embrace yourself, don't be afraid of being weird or different, let your hair down!

Don’t lose yourself to feel the acceptance of others but become your person, for you.

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Mia Bennett

Mia Bennett is a high school student in Auckland, New Zealand and is striving to work as a Journalist in later years.