These days it’s very trendy to talk about uniqueness and being different.
But the reality of being truly different isn’t always fun or enjoyable. In fact, feeling like an outsider can be a very lonely and alienating experience.
As somebody who’s often found himself as an outsider and feeling misunderstood, I know this feeling well.
You try to fit in and relate, but sometimes you just seem to be on a bit of a genuinely different wavelength. The signal isn’t going through.
Here are more signs that your personality is so different that you often feel like an outsider, as well as my advice about what to do about it.
1) You think for yourself
We are all conditioned. We are all products of our environment, upbringing, genetics and culture.
That’s not bad or shameful in any way, nor is it necessarily something we need to “transcend” or “overcome.”
There is deep value in roots, even flawed roots. Beautiful flowers can grow from a swamp.
But it is true that many of us assume we’re far past our conditioning but are nowhere near.
If you’re somebody who truly isn’t swayed by what others think and thinks for yourself it can be difficult to connect. That’s because you don’t repeat narratives or buy into easy answers.
You’re always questioning and you keep exploring even after most have already arrived at a neat conclusion or truism.
2) You’re not politically correct
Political correctness is very much a real thing and it’s not only ruined a lot of comedy, it’s also made many people insufferable.
When you are not politically correct it can be jarring to some people.
This is especially true in professional circles or groups of friends who are trying to make good impressions on each other.
You come right out and say the emperor’s wearing no clothes? Some people are not going to like that.
Speaking of politics…
3) You’re politically unique and prefer metapolitics
Most people I meet in day to day life are exhausted with politics or believe it’s “all corrupt” and similar things.
But most are part of fairly similar political ideologies to be quite honest and have never challenged the fundamental assumptions at the heart of Western or modern political models like democracy or “freedom.”
One of the most alienating things is when you like to think big and question assumptions especially on ideological and political matters.
People may have trouble understanding or be put off that you would question things they assume are inherently good like “democracy,” for example.
4) You push back against preset parameters
Another of the signs that you have a highly unique personality is that you don’t accept preset parameters.
Another word for preset parameters would be labels, but I mean something a bit more than just labels here.
Preset parameters are things like defining who is “left wing” or “right wing,” what a “religion” consists in, or what “love” means.
You don’t necessarily go by the prevailing definitions. You go by your unique experience, and this confuses some people and leaves you often feeling misunderstood or like you’re playing by another set of rules.
This also leads into the next point…
5) You’re out of step with the Zeitgeist
The German-word Zeitgeist means literally “spirit of the times.”
When you have a highly unique personality you often may feel like you were born in the wrong generation.
I’ve felt this way many times, as if I’m almost speaking another language to many in my generation or just don’t get what’s motivating many people in my age bracket.
If you value philosophies, ideas, cultural concepts and spiritual ideals that don’t seem valued around you then you likely have a highly unique personality that’s out of step with the Zeitgeist, too.
6) You feel like you’re seeking a tribe that doesn’t exist
I relate to this particular point so strongly.
Most of my life I’ve felt like I’m seeking a tribe that doesn’t exist or no longer exists.
It’s hard to define exactly what this tribe might be, although I’ve felt fleeting echoes of it in many places I’ve been and groups I’ve interacted with and been part of.
When you are both an outsider but also strongly seeking a tribe you may have a similar feeling.
You’re an individual, but you’re also very in touch with this desire to belong and relate to others in a group. It’s just that even as you merge into a group your consciousness of yourself as separate continues and eventually draws you back into separation once again.
7) You have trouble finding a partner you really relate to
Love is rarely easy, even for those who have an easier time fitting in.
But for those with a highly unique personality it’s even harder.
Not only do you tend to wear your heart on your sleeve and be quite intense, you fall in love fully or not at all.
It’s so rare to meet a kindred spirit that when you do you become extremely eager and commit quickly, sometimes backfiring or even coming across as neediness.
Just keep the faith that when you truly meet a kindred soul they’ll recognise the truth: it’s not neediness, it’s joy and appreciation.
8) You’re on a spiritual or religious quest that most can’t relate to
Let’s face it, the quest for spiritual truth and religious faith can be a lonely one.
Even if you belong to a religious community or spiritual path, a lot of the deepest soul-searching goes on alone: in nature, in your home, or even in the middle of a group but feeling completely solitary.
When you pursue a path to truth that isn’t very typical, you’re likely to feel quite misunderstood. You sometimes long to double back to the well-trodden path.
But even if you try you can’t repress down that part of yourself that seeks truth at all costs.
9) You like music, art and film that most people find strange or out of touch
We all have different tastes, but some are certainly weirder than others.
If you’re the kind who’s into some very edgy or unusual stuff this can definitely lead to feeling like an outsider.
Folks may even try to get into what you’re into, but it’s just not their cup of tea.
They find your likes odd or out of touch, no matter how polite they try to be about it.
10) You don’t draw the typical line at what is “good” or “bad” as many around you
There are people in interest who’ve massively shifted the way we see reality and the universe, for better or for worse.
Many were extremely unique and often lonely.
Figures like German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued that what we typically think of as good and evil are mostly just the defense of those who want to be controlled and feel safe and secure.
The truth, Nietzsche said, was that the universe is far crueler and more amoral than we realize.
Was he right? Perhaps. Maybe he was wrong.
But he was certainly misunderstood and lonely, partly because of saying these kinds of shocking and upsetting things.
11) You’re highly sensitive and perceptive such that life is often overwhelming
Many outsiders are HSPs (highly sensitive persons).
I don’t personally believe that I am highly sensitive, but I do know that those who are very perceptive and creative often struggle.
It’s not that you are special or superior, per se, it’s just that you have this enormous creative drive and sensitivity inside you that many people don’t seem attuned to.
You keep searching out your tribe, but much of the time it’s a solitary pursuit to sing the song of your soul.
Insider vs. outsider
Even though you feel like an outsider and have a highly unique personality, it’s crucial to remember you’re not alone.
The person next to you in line joking with his friends who you imagine is an “insider” who belongs and feels at home is actually an “outsider” in his own experience.
There’s an element of subjective interpretation at play here.
You may indeed be more unique than many people around you and have particular trouble connecting, but there are many others who feel exactly the same.