Three moves to make when you feel out of place
Posted by Stephen Whitfield
Have you felt out of place lately?
An expat comes to a new country, city or neighborhood and feels out of place automatically.
Global citizens feel ‘out of place’ at the beginning of their global journey, all the way through, and when they come ‘home’ again.
It can happen in a bar, at a family celebration, a religious ceremony or just on the street with a group of people.
You are standing there, and nobody sees you, even though you stick out like a sore thumb. And even if they ‘see’ you, they really have no understanding of who you are, where you have been, or the variety experiences that make you who you are.
At least that’s the way it feels. And mostly it’s just the way it is.
That can be hard, and the tendency is just to stand there, alone, your feet nailed, glued, stuck to the floor. That’s especially true if you are somewhat of an introvert, as many expats are.
At that moment there are three moves you can make:
Don’t move; stay there:
The first move to make is not to move.
It’s a good place to be, there where you are. It is OK to feel and be out of place. The truth is that everyone feels out of place much if not all of the time. It’s part of the human condition. Accept that place. Otherwise your moves will mask a desperate attempt to have someone else provide the acceptance that they probably cannot and will not give.
Of course you are out of place: You are unique! You are YOU! There is no one else in the room with the same background, experiences and perspectives on life. That’s a good thing, isn’t it? So stand there for a minute and celebrate yourself!
Move your feet:
Make the first move yourself! One at a time you can release your feet from the floor, find someone to approach, and just do it. Walk over there. Say hello. Give a handshake if that is appropriate. Make contact.
Chances are he or she is feeling out of place too, and will appreciate the attention from you. It becomes a little less about you, and a little more about the other. That’s a good thing too, isn’t it?
Move your lips:
Tell your story. Maybe not as the first thing you say.
Ask some questions first and show genuine interest in the other person. But when she rambles on ad infinitum and ad nauseum about her rose bush that won’t grow, Aunt Jenny’s bad back, the bosses’ incompetence or the last vacation, don’t give up, don’t back off, don’t climb back into your shell.
Open your mouth and say something about yourself. Say something about who you are, what you do, or why you do it. Tell your story, even if it is only a few sentences.
You might be of help and encouragement to her.
And that’s a good thing, isn’t it?
What are you waiting for?
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