Do I fit in? Reflections on belonging

Do I fit in?

The Best Boot Forward questions for this week are challenging.

1.Do you feel you fit in and if so, where and who with?

Fitting in has always been a challenge to me. I reflect that perhaps because I was given away as a baby, I will always carry that sense of rejection and perhaps sometimes see it when it has not happened. My late Dad always said that there was a void that even he and my Mum could not fill despite their very best efforts.

Apparently the community in Yorkshire I moved to at just under a year old welcomed me with open arms. I went to school but as soon as you said you were adopted you inadvertently marked yourself out as different. This was compounded by the fact that my parents were so much older than other children’s and my brothers were around 16 years older than me so we were not the average family in that way. I remember doing OK socially in primary school from what I remember but at secondary school I always felt alien, picked on, bullied and lonely. Perhaps that is unfair because there were of course happy times and good friends too. I just felt people did not really like or understand me especially as I liked learning and did well academically.

Ironically, when the working class kid from Dewsbury went to Cambridge University, it felt OK and right. I always felt there must have been some mistake that they had let me in in the first place. However, it was easy enough to find your tribe and I remember a lot of kindness from people both male and female. Some people were particularly wonderful seeing my shyness and making efforts to include me. That is beyond the call of duty and I appreciate the memories made as a result of such kindnesses to this day.

These days social media has brought contact with some of those people. I don’t really fit in now as although still bright, I don’t have a dazzling career or pots of money. All that went wrong somewhere and that is something to think about in another post.

I worked in charities before becoming a stay at home mum down the line. I think people saw me as that bit different but we shared a common cause in helping people. Certainly when working in advice agencies and the like, I felt at home kicking ass with others and fighting injustices.

With the men I have ended up with (only two!), I really did feel a good fit. With both I was ignoring pretty obvious warning signs just grateful someone wanted to be with me and laugh with me. They tired of me quickly enough resenting my analytical nature or my belief women should get a fair deal.

The blogging world became a sanctuary to me and I am so thankful to have had such an outlet for thoughts, feelings and opinions. Real friendships have emerged from blogging and I value having people in my corner.

Where I absolutely fit is with my three lovely children. Although I don’t think I am the most wonderful mum in the world at all, I do stick by them and keep them safe. We laugh together and fortunately they are all thinkers, feelers and up for a debate any time.

2.What prevents you fitting in? Should you accept this or change it?

Some of my history just means the fact is I am an outsider. I was born in London when most of my peers at school were born in Yorkshire. I am adopted and most people aren’t. I was the working class kid at Cambridge and most people weren’t. I always say that it was quite a leap for someone whose Mum was a cleaner to find herself having her own cleaner aged 18! Cambridge Law graduates were not that common in the charity world as the pay tends to be poor and funding insecure. Do I need to be like everyone around me? One of the brilliant things about going to new places all my life is that I have met a diverse range of people and learned from all of them in one way or another.

The fear of rejection has led to me pushing people away over the years. The truth is once I let people in, most do seem to like me even quite a lot. That gets way easier with age of course. Now I can just play and not worry too much but I am still hyper-vigilant for someone turning on me.

3.Are you forcing yourself to stick with something that is just not healthy or right for you? Who can support you to extricate yourself from that situation?

I find this question difficult to answer. I absolutely know life circumstances can be changed but you do have to sure the grass really is greener on the other side. My marriage if far from perfect but it has its good aspects too. My work fits for now around parenting and stuff. I do wonder if it might be nice to get a job at some point but equally I love the freedom freelancing brings. Home education is something I constantly question because it really is quite a tough choice and although I think it is absolutely right for my children at the moment, that does not necessarily mean it is right for me and my wellbeing.

4.If you could find your ideal place anywhere whether location or circumstances, where would that be and why?

I have a long-standing dream of learning about floristry and selling flowers by the sea! I also know that if I ever decide to pursue this, it is perfectly do-able.

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33 Comments

  1. Natalie January 19, 2018 / 9:17 pm

    A great post. It highlights the long term affect bullying can have on people but I’m so glad Cambridge was a much more welcoming place. I find it is especially hard as an adult to make friends, I wonder if it is just me or whether many adults find the same, especially as I can’t work due to chronic illness currently.

  2. Jenny (Accidental Hipster Mum) January 21, 2018 / 11:33 am

    You had a tough set of questions, I hate talking about this sort of stuff on my blog, I never talk about my feelings! It’s sad that you had such a hard time of things at secondary school. I’ve had a lifetime of not being sure I fit in, but I think I’ve almost cracked it now!

    #BlogCrush

  3. Ren January 21, 2018 / 12:20 pm

    This is such a deep post, certainly one to get me thinking (which I love by the way). I know I have been holding back, not feeling like if people truly know me they would accept me. My children go to a fancy school, and I have made wonderful friends there too, but I hold back major things about me, because I am scared they would judge my children, or me. When you hold back it makes you feel like a prisoner, like the people, or person who scarred you so deeply still has a hold over you, still controls you. I hate that, I hate it so much, but I am scared to truly open up about the things I have been through. I know what happened to me was not my fault, but victim shaming and blaming is so common and I don’t need questions. So in many ways I hide, I smile, I laugh and I be myself except for when it comes to those painful secrets. So if I could be anywhere, it wouldn’t matter where it was, but it would be a pace where no one blamed women for rape!

  4. mackenzie glanville January 21, 2018 / 12:29 pm

    It is a horrible feeling to feel alone, I know it well, even when surrounded by ferns I can still feel so alone. I am pushing myself though to be more myself and let people love the real me. Hope you can too xx #blogcrush

  5. chickenruby January 21, 2018 / 12:38 pm

    I think we all need to learn that we have a niche in life and we don’t always know when we’ve found it, thinking that there is maybe more for us out there, but eventually we come back to or get to where we are supposed to be one day. I hope you manage to open your floristry by the sea one day. i’m not sure what it is I really want to do yet. #bestbootforward

  6. Samantha Donnelly January 21, 2018 / 3:58 pm

    Wow they are challenging questions, I think we all have a sense of we don’t fit in somewhere down the line. I know I certainly have. I have learnt over the years to love who I am, be proud of who I am, and if I don’t fit in with what others think then they do not deserve me .

  7. jeremy@thirstydaddy January 21, 2018 / 4:18 pm

    for all the bad things about social media and the Internet, I think one of the best ones has been a way for people to be able to find and connect to others that they feel comfortable with and share interests with. people that they wouldn’t have met otherwise

  8. Lauren @ Inspire Create Educate January 21, 2018 / 5:48 pm

    Some tough questions here, I struggled to answer them myself!

    The truth is, we can never fit in everywhere, and if we do fit in somewhere, we probably won’t forever. These are fast moving times and the best way forward is to make sure you fit in with yourself, first and foremost.

  9. Tracy Albiero January 22, 2018 / 6:19 pm

    Those are some hard questions to answer! Not sure I could have been so transparent. I think you put into words what we all think. Regardless of the situation, we all measure ourselves up to someone or something. The hard part if finding yourself comfortable in your own skin! #TheMMLinky

  10. The Tale of Mummyhood/Salubrious Place January 22, 2018 / 6:39 pm

    If I’m honest, I never feel like I fit it. I just get better at acting like I do. As a teenager I really struggled, as I get older though I suppose I’m much better at accepting who I really am! #bigpinklink

  11. Cheshire SEN tutor January 22, 2018 / 6:49 pm

    I love your honesty and how you’ve opened up in this blog post. Inspiring. Wonderful that you the blogging community has helped you feel like you fit in. Really enjoyed reading your post #bigpinklink

  12. Liberty Henwick January 22, 2018 / 7:16 pm

    Sounds like you’ve faced a few hurdles in your life. I wonder whether on some level we all feel we don’t quite fit in in some circles, I always felt I did’t fit in my birth family as I am the only one to profess any type of faith which means I was teased a bit. Funny you say you’d like to be a florist, there’s a vacancy in our local shop here by the sea! Hope that dream is fulfilled for you. #anythinggoes

  13. Baby Isabella January 22, 2018 / 7:26 pm

    My mummy has yet to find her tribe or where she fits in. She’s like a social chameleon and adapts to her setting but that has left her feeling cold, a fraud and unsure of who she is. She still to this day has imposer syndrome as a blogger, she’s not funny, not serious, not fashionable, not controversial – she’s just her or ‘me’ on the blog. Those are answers we can’t answer and might never be able to. Sounds like you’ve been around a lot of different spectrums of people and that has made you stronger as a result. My mummy often feels like she’s been hidden away. So glad you found friendship through blogging x #AnythingGoes

    • Perdita January 22, 2018 / 8:37 pm

      This idea of a mum tribe we see on line can make it worse and lonelier as it seems everyone ‘should’ have one. I tried so many clubs and hang outs.
      When I went back after maternity leave I found that although some colleagues and friends had older kids, they were my mum crew. They were who I felt comfortable with, and some of my neighbourhood mums. We don’t all fit together or have the same style, we are just a random collection.
      I hope you one day look around and realise you have a mum crew unexpectedly too! #anythinggoes

  14. Donna Giles January 22, 2018 / 8:47 pm

    As someone who has an invisible disability (CHD) and children who have a very visible disability (CP) I know how it feels to be the ‘odd one out’, but I too feel like I have found friends who understand my life via blogging.
    #mmlinky

  15. Anne January 23, 2018 / 10:48 am

    Such a deep and revealing post and also very thought provoking. It’s sad that your start in life left you feeling with a void, it seems that you always expected not to fit in after that? I also get you with the university degree and no dazzling career and pots of money, I can so relate to that. I am a lot like you, my focus is mostly on my children, so long as I am with them I feel like I truly belong and have found my place. I really hope you get to realise your dreams in life one day x
    #theMMlinky

  16. Sarah Howe January 24, 2018 / 7:29 pm

    Really deep post and I enjoyed reading. I often feel the same after Uni. Where I work now I feel I need to have more drive and focus like the others but like you, my children are everything and I love being with them. Hope you can work with flowers one day and thanks for sharing with #bloggersbest x

  17. Lucy At Home January 24, 2018 / 9:46 pm

    Wow some tough questions! I can certainly relate to your feeling of not fitting in, although for different reasons. I was popular through school but within the first term of starting university (and living away from home), I contracted a chronic illness. I was too ill to keep in touch with my old friends from home, and my new friends were too new and didn’t stick by me because I wasn’t any fun. I was ill for 7 years and extremely lonely. I am no longer ill but I feel that I missed out the lesson on learning to make friends with adults because from age 19 to 25, I had none. These days, I do have friends but feel very much like an outsider and not sure how to navigate social situations. It’s not a nice feeling but, like you, I find that the place I fit in is my little family unit – my girls, hubby, and me. #blogcrush

  18. Barrie Bismark January 25, 2018 / 5:45 pm

    Great post. I still sometimes struggle as to where I fit in. As a mother, employee, friend… It is a hard thing to teach your kids too when you don’t know where you fit in yourself. Thanks for sharing your story.
    #ablogginggoodtime

  19. Tracy Albiero January 25, 2018 / 7:03 pm

    Not everyone can lead the pack. Not everyone can bring up the pack. Sometimes it is ok to run wild in the middle! #sharingthebloglove

  20. Morgan Prince January 25, 2018 / 8:01 pm

    A great post Kate. I’ve often felt like an outsider although I didn’t really have a reason to. I love your idea of selling flowers by the sea.
    #CoolMumClub

  21. MMT January 25, 2018 / 9:37 pm

    It was really lovely and interesting to read more of your life story Kate. I love your dream of selling flowers by the sea…see you there… xx

    Thanks so much for linking to #coolmumclub

  22. Nicole - Tales from Mamaville January 26, 2018 / 5:24 pm

    Lovely to know more about you Kate. I particularly loved the part where you said you fit in beautifully with your three children – at the end of the day, isn’t that what’s most important? Family and feeling secure?
    #ThursdayTeam

  23. Jo - Pickle & Poppet January 26, 2018 / 10:30 pm

    This is a really thought provoking post. Do I think I fit in? No not really, although I have grown to accept me for me and not worry about it so much. #TriumphantTales

  24. Jaki January 28, 2018 / 4:24 pm

    Deep post, Kate. But really interesting and I admire your honesty. I have never really given a huge amount of thought as to whether I fit in or not. I try not to conform and I am a big believer in ‘being yourself’ One of my favourite quotes is from Coco Chanel “Don’t be like the rest of them, Darling”. Thanks for sharing with #TriumphantTales, we’d love to see you back again on Tuesday.

  25. Laura Dove January 28, 2018 / 7:33 pm

    Very interesting and thought provoking. Do I fit in? Im not even sure. Do I care? Way less than I used to that’s for sure! I have an amazing group of friends, I like to focus on that! Thank you for joining us at #bigpinklink

  26. Helena January 28, 2018 / 8:39 pm

    It’s great to read about you and find out more. #TriumphantTales

  27. Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons January 30, 2018 / 10:04 am

    These are really challenging questions. I’ve never felt that I fit in – I’ve always felt like I’m on the edge, never quite sure of my place. I struggle in big groups of people, which has often made me hold myself back from friends, particularly at work, where it all tends to be about big social events. It’s a negative cycle though, because the more I step back, the less people want to socialise with you! I’m much better in one on one situations, and the friends that I’m close to, I’m really close to, and I feel absolutely sure of my place with them. I suspect that kind of outsider feeling is far more common than we think, and that helps me to realise that I’m not alone. Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  28. Laura - Dear Bear and Beany January 30, 2018 / 11:23 am

    Wow these are challenging questions. Well done on taking on the challenge and opening up about you feel about fitting in. It’s a difficult one to be really honest about. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  29. The Pramshed January 30, 2018 / 10:23 pm

    Wow these are hard questions to answer and I admire your honesty and bravery here, I’m not sure that I could do the same. It’s an awful feeling, feeling like you’re not fitting in, and I hope that blogging has helped you with that. It’s one of those things that helps with a lot of things. Thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

  30. Kirsty January 31, 2018 / 11:38 am

    Fitting in is something we all strive for but of course it is simply a case of finding your tribe. Who cares if you are different, it doesn’t mean you won’t fit in. It was highlighted to me recently that me and my best friend are complete opposites. Serious, totally different in so many ways. I had never realised this before because I simply see her as my friend who makes me laugh and who I can rely on at all times. The other stuff is important because it will have played a part in moulding you into the person you are now. But none of it defines you. And anyone who acts like it does isn’t worth the time of day anyway.
    Thank you for joining #ThursdayTeam

  31. Ross Hunt February 1, 2018 / 7:05 am

    Great post! I used to worry about fitting in, but now I really don’t care

  32. The Rhyming Mum February 1, 2018 / 8:34 pm

    I’ve never really felt like I fit in either. I’m sure that most of that is my own anxieties making me feel that way. I’d like to say that as I get older it bothers me less but I’m not sure that’s true. #sharingthebloglove

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