When You Feel Like You Don’t Belong

Hey, you. Yes, you in the corner. I see you there, nervously tugging at your shirt, trying your best not to look out of place. You look at the group of girls gathered together and laughing. Everyone seems to be talking with someone. Except you. Maybe you know the feeling. Trying to “fit in” with others at church or a new friend group at school can be uncomfortable. Maybe making a breakthrough in your coworkers’ “inner circle” seems impossible. If you move someplace new, loneliness ensues. Perhaps dread rises up in new social situations because of that time someone made you feel unwelcome. For those of us more reserved people, these situations are no small feat. Even the most outgoing, extroverted people find themselves in the same place—desiring to belong, too. What if they don’t like me? What if no one wants to be my friend? What if I’m awkward? Insecurity is quick to tell us that we don’t belong. Instead of listening to the sense of inadequacy and the fear that whisper lies, here are five things to remember the next time you feel like you don’t belong:

1. You have a place of belonging with God.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)

Often we wish we could run and hide in tough situations. How fitting, since God is the ultimate “hiding place.” He promises this all over the Psalms. Run to Him—the One who created you sees you, knows you, and loves you, and is the only one who can truly satisfy your desire to belong. Psalm 62:8 says to “pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” When your heart is hurting and you feel alone, the best place you can go is to the Lord. As you pray, try journaling your thoughts. This is a tangible way to express your emotions and write truth to dwell in. Then you can reference your journal the next time you struggle with these feelings.

2. Jesus didn’t belong.

Sometimes we can get so caught up with trying to fit in that we lose sight of what really matters. Jesus was not concerned with being well-liked. From the moment He was born, Herod wanted Him dead. Talk about someone really making you feel unwelcome! Jesus came to save sinners and make the Truth known, but who He was and what He said was often unpopular. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). He didn’t “fit in.” When we refocus our efforts to living out the gospel, as Jesus did, our minds won’t be occupied with striving to belong.

3. This world is not our home.

If you feel a bit misplaced, that’s actually a good sign, for “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). As believers, it is normal to experience feeling like strangers because we do not belong to this earth (John 17:16). Let the next time you are overwhelmed with insecurities and pressure to fit in be a reminder that this world is temporary.

4. This season is a gift.

A gift? Attending a new social event or having one more small talk conversation may be the last thing you want to do right now. In Ecclesiastes 3 we are told that everything has a season. Maybe this is a season that God is doing a big work in you. In this time of wandering, draw near to Him. As you rely on Him to be your comfort and fill you with His presence and joy, you’ll start seeing His gifts and His grace in unexpected places. Rest in the words of John, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16). Ask God what He has for you in this season. Will you take time to notice?

5. You’re not alone.

“You’re alone,” is the lie that creeps in when it seems we don’t belong anywhere. But others are in the same boat. The dreaded words, “get out of your comfort zone,” hold a lot of merit. Say “yes” when you’re invited to a gathering, even if it may seem uncomfortable. Say “yes” to having lunch with someone new. (Disclaimer: ask God for discernment when it comes to hanging out with the right group of people). When you say “yes,” you’re allowing God to bring people into your life and you into theirs. Philippians 2 is a great reminder to look beyond our own needs and see how we can serve others. Rather than wondering what is in it for you, ask God to use you in someone else’s life. Don’t be afraid to step out. The next time you feel out of place, think about these reminders. Dwell in God’s presence, where you will always belong. Let your loneliness propel you to notice someone else who is struggling. What can you do to help them feel like they belong? 

About the Author

Micayla Brickner

Micayla Brickner serves on staff with Revive Our Hearts and loves encouraging others with the truth and wonder of the gospel. She is a big fan of chasing sunrises, sharing conversations over coffee, and finding joy in everyday moments. Micayla and her husband, Adam, live in the Midwest with their son.