I'm a little sister. My older sister was super cool. She knew stuff. Kids in the neighborhood followed her around. My cousins liked her ideas way more than mine. She was the natural leader whenever there was a group of kids around. I never seemed to fit in as a young kid.
In my desperation to be liked, I became an expert at fitting in anywhere. I am a social chameleon who can get along with ANYONE. Not kidding! And this was a skill I was super proud of until I realized that I never felt the thing I was trying feel. It wasn't until I was able to distinguish between fitting in and belonging that I realized I was on the completely wrong path.
I have had to give up my need to be liked in order to experience belonging. It's so counterintuitive, right? But I had to accept that people may not like me and that it's okay. Even typing those words are difficult. I have learned that trust and respect are far more valuable to me than being liked. I have discovered that by being me that I can belong, which kicks fitting in's ass all day long. There is still that 7-year-old girl in me who is fighting to be one of the popular kids, but I am slowly showing her that there's a way better thing to strive for by focusing on the people who let me be me.