Finding Strength in Being Different


One fear many of my clients face is the fear of being different.

It might sound schoolgirl-ish, but it's something many of us carry around, even as adults. (I do, too!)

When was the first time you felt the desire to belong, to fit in?

I remember as a child, I spent the first 8 years of my life in the United States before returning to Japan. Back then, third-culture kids were a rare species. My new Japanese classmates swarmed around me and watched every move I made. I was different. They were curious. Yet, all I wanted was to fit in.

I wanted to be one of them.

I didn't want to be unique. I didn't want to be able to speak English. I didn't want to be smart. I didn't want to be outspoken. I didn't want to be a leader. I basically rejected everything I was. I just wanted to blend in and belong to the rest of the group. Belonging made me feel safe and happy.

Years and years of habits create the person you are today.

Even now, whenever I am in a group setting, I catch myself looking for the people I fit in with.

How about you?

What do you do when you feel you don't fit in?

Do you flee the scene or hang in there and push past the discomfort?

Feeling out of place is uncomfortable; it triggers all your insecurities. You begin to doubt your worth and to believe the limiting thoughts that tell you you aren't good enough.

To protect yourself from the discomfort, you get defensive and make up excuses:
  • "I wasn't interested in this anyway."
  • "I don't like anyone here."
  • "Who cares; I've got better things to do."

It reminds me of the way it feels when you try a new yoga pose.

At first, it feels awkward and uncomfortable; it's easier to just give up.

Or how it feels to be at the 20-mile mark in a marathon.

You're tired and your mind gives you every reason to stop running and walk.

Yes, I admit that giving up IS easier than hanging in there. But, here's a secret that you won't ever learn if you quit when it starts to feel difficult: When you give up, you never get see how
it feels to be on the other side of the discomfort.

I want to challenge you to stay in.

Hold that pose. Breath into where you feel the tension.

Keep on breathing.

Know that you can do this. Put one foot in front of the other.

Keep on running.

Be in that uncomfortable moment that you feel that you don't belong.

Continue to be present.

Focus your energy and thoughts on breathing through the discomfort.

When you are striving to become a leader in your career and life, new situations and activities will be uncomfortable at first. Stepping out of your old comfort zone is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage and bold action to move into new territory.

And it will take a little while to get used to your new normal.

Stay in.

Be present.

You always belong to yourself.

If you are not sure what your inner voice is telling you, and you are frustrated with uncertainty of your vision of career and life, schedule a Clarity Call with me to discuss how coaching might help you find your clarity.


Nozomi Morgan, MBA, is a certified Executive Coach and the Founder and President of Michiki Morgan Worldwide LLC. Addition to coaching, she speaks and trains on leadership, career, professional development and cross-cultural business communication.

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