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No Man (or Teen) Is an Island

Updated: Jun 18, 2019

Our teen years are the most difficult years for trying to fit in with others. Teens are transitioning into young men and women who will be independent of their parents in a few short years. Being liked by others at this age, is critical for one’s own self-respect. Teenagers seem to validate themselves by their perspective of what others think of them. Not fitting in at this age can be devastating for how you feel about yourself and about life.

First, you need to know yourself. If you were buying new shoes, you would need to know your size. Likewise, to “fit in” you need to know what you want to be a part of. Think about what is missing in not belonging. Do you want to share, lead or follow? If you want to lead or be the center of attention, remember someone else is already there. You will make an enemy if you try to step into this role. You may even embarrass or alienate yourself for trying.

Chances are that if you feel the need to read this article, you may only want to follow to belong to a group. Following gets your foot in the door, but it isn’t very fulfilling to always “tag along.” It is better to be a sharing member of any group. To share, one must contribute and open up. If you are sharing of yourself, others are listening and learning about you as an individual. Sharing takes turns; you will be learning about others when they are speaking. In this way, you will find others who are worthy of your friendship.

It is true that one can’t just step into a sharing member position. You need to start slow. Be friendly and kind when opportunities arise. In the meantime, concentrate on what you have to offer. If you want others to talk to you, do you have things to say? If you are shy or introvert, that can be why you haven’t been invited in. If you give one-word comments to others, it does not let them know anything about you. Make a list of what you would want to know about a potential friend. Practice the kinds of answers you would want to hear, and you will understand more about how you can converse with others.

Don’t concentrate on what you imagine is wrong with you, rather think about what is right with you. It will be the “sharing” part as mentioned earlier. No matter how close-knit members of a group or friendship seem, there are never two people exactly alike. You will never be happy fitting in if you try to be something you are not. It is the unique part of you that will contribute most to those with whom you want to belong.

There a famous poem by John Dunn that states, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” No matter how alone one might feel they are still a part of something bigger. You are just one student out of those in your school. If you are new in school, there are others who are or have been new. On the other hand, even the star football player can’t play with out the entire team.

You will never become a contributing member of anything by concentrating on negative thoughts about yourself. You must be proactive about sharing yourself. You must learn to value what you have to offer to others. When you understand this, you will be able to be confident and you may even have more bounce in your step or a smile that makes others curious to know you.

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