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What I learned from being the odd one out

Feeling like the odd one out is something I usually associate with childhood– not getting invited to that party or getting picked for school sports teams. But, getting older is no guarantee that that feeling will fade. You might assume your therapist is immune to comparing themselves to others or worrying what people think about them, but I’m here to tell you that’s not the case.

I’ve always been an introvert with a very small circle of friends. Never enjoyed going to big parties, struggled to get what I needed from lots of casual friendships, didn’t fantasize about being a bride or give much thought to having children. But everyone else around me did (can you tell I went to an all girls school?). So, not wanting to be the odd one out, I faked it. I felt like being me wasn’t OK or acceptable and I was terrified people would find out I didn’t want or like the same things everyone else did.

I often say to my clients “it is ok to be different” and of course it is, but it’s hard, isn’t it? We’re given this checklist early on in life – have lots of friends, be outgoing, do well at school, go to university, find a partner, get married, have children and build a career. But what if that’s not what you want? Questioning these ideas (that’s all they are in the end) can feel lonely and isolating – particularly when everyone seems to be falling in line around us. I’ve had people question me, try to shame me, coax me into decisions and flat out dismiss my thoughts and feelings. It was painful and I began to avoid any conversation I thought would lead to discussing my future and how it compared.

As time has gone on, and through my own therapy, I’m slowly spending less time looking at what everyone else is doing and more time asking myself if I’m going in the right direction for me. I don’t need to fit in, and I have nothing to prove – what a relief that realisation was! In the end, my opinion of me is the only one that matters. It’s quite scary to throw away that checklist, but it’s also exciting to think about making different choices. Choices that suit who I am.

Do you ever feel like the odd one out?

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