Social Question

Jeruba's avatar

In your life, how do you reconcile these paradoxical values: standing out versus fitting in?

Asked by Jeruba (48886points) 4 days ago

Do you find these values in conflict? What do they mean in practice in your life? Do you try to stand out or fit in—or both?

Does “everybody’s special” sound sensible to you, or is it just an empty notion that sells greeting cards?

This question isn’t asking for advice or help, thanks. It’s asking how you work out this seeming contradiction in your own life.

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6 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

First of all, I don’t consider either of them as “values”. They are just circumstances. Fitting in is not inherently good or bad; fitting in as part of a team is one thing. Fitting in as a means of hiding to avoid conflict is a bit of a cop,out.

Same with standing out. One can stand out by performing well and being considerate, or one can stand out by being a narcissistic jerk.

Jeruba's avatar

Well, okay, but I think for some people they are. I’ve heard people say “I just want to fit in.” I’ve seen some of those same people strive to be one of the few achievers in some domain. I’m asking people who do value those things to say how they resolve any conflict between them.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Standing out is a troublesome business. As far as I’m concerned, fame or notoriety is much more trouble than it’s worth. You can keep the flash. Sure I’d drive a new Bentley, but would much prefer a new Bentley disguised as a jalopy. The time to “look like a million dollars” is when you don’t have it.

JLeslie's avatar

I would say I’m a bit of both. When I was younger I think I liked to stand out more, but stand out in a way that others thought was cool. Like my clothing being trendy and maybe catching some attention. At the same time I wanted to fit in; I wanted to catch positive attention. Mostly, I wore what I liked, I was into fashion, but I think back then if I received negative feedback it would influence me to stop wearing the item.

When fitting in meant doing something I really didn’t want to do I avoided the situations or lied. An example would be that I didn’t want to drink alcohol when I was young so I usually avoided drinking parties when I was in school. A few times I said I already drank some alcohol at home and couldn’t drink more. Eventually, by my college years, I was able to simply say I don’t drink or don’t want to drink.

If standing out means I’ll be putting myself in possible danger I don’t want to do it. Examples are wearing expensive jewelry, driving a luxury car, even dressing sexy. Much of the time I prefer to just blend in. Although, when it comes to clothing, I do like to put on something nice sometimes. It’s not that the clothing is skimpy or trashy, that’s not what I mean, but being dressed up can give an air of sexiness and confidence and attract attention. Especially, if most people in the room are dressed down.

I think I resolve the conflicts by deciding some things aren’t important to me, or trying to find the positive of the other choice. It’s probably some sort of psychological mechanism like denial, but I don’t know the right term.

On a more macro view, I am a proponent of conforming and assimilating in a society. Maybe that is for a different discussion? You can be unique, but only within reason before it might hinder your ultimate goal. This is more about cultural norms.

Everyone is special is basically true in my mind. I really feel this way more and more as a spend time with people who are retired. Listening to the twists and turns of their life, what they’ve learned, what they know. Each person unique. I find it fascinating to listen to people sharing their knowledge even if I disagree with them.

KNOWITALL's avatar

It’s always been impossible for me to ‘fit in’, at least in my adult life. In college I’d hide from my party friends to study, or make excuses to not go on drunk trips. That kind of social fitting in was never my thing.
I’m more of an eye on the prize type.

Admiration from my peers is not important to me, I seek approval from those I respect.

Inspired_2write's avatar

To me stand out means being oneself not necessarily winning awards etc

To be confident of oneself to reject “trying to” fit in some “round or square peg” that someone else decides is the correct way is wrong and that mind set causes so much confusion in the teen years.

Normal is what the group designates as what is normal.

That is why ‘black sheep” a negative term for independent thinkers usually turns out to be leaders in there chosen fields.

Artists, musicians, writers, actors etc that do there own way of creating are the movers and shakers of this world and always has been.

They alone decided that they “didn’t” accept the “norm” of there times and created a new way of doing things of which they became known for later in life.

Some created movements of which new freedoms were instilled without there progressive thinking what would our world look like without that?

We would be back in the stone ages without them.

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