Recently, a friend shared with me that she felt like an outsider among her friends. I told her that I sometimes felt like that, too. In disbelief, she had a host of questions about how I could possibly feel that way. “You couldn’t be more of an insider,” she said. Continuing on to share that it appeared to her that “Everyone else seemed to have a fit,” I suggested to her that everyone else may be looking at her with the same idea. We continued in conversation to uncover a deep desire of hers which was to start a Singles Ministry in her church. I hope she follows through with that, because I believe she has a true desire to reach out to people who may also be feeling isolated, as was she.
It occurred to me in the hours that followed that conversation that EVERYONE REALLY DOES NEED A FIT. From Billionaires to homeless folks, we all seek a sense of belonging that makes us peers with others. That said, I’m reminded of my mother’s advice that “We’re known by the company we keep.” Another friend has wisely suggested that “If you lay down with dogs, you’ll wake up with fleas.” So it goes in our personal lives as well as professional that it is prudent to consider our fit wisely.
Good advice about the company we keep aside, it is important to know who our allies are and to consider how we nurture those relationships. Not sure? Ask. I know it sounds a bit nutty (and the antithesis of what we trained ourselves to do in high school), but as responsible adults who have real-world reasons to know, we have a responsibility to ask difficult, and sometimes uncomfortable, questions.
- Ask your client where you stand.
- Ask your spouse where your relationship stands (in his/her eyes).
- Ask your employer where you stand in terms of your job performance.
We are all entitled to feedback and to know where we fit in each of our respective relationships. Communication is essential to nurturing healthy relationships, but communication has to start with one person saying/asking. Let it be you, and see where the conversation goes from there.
Don’t wonder where you fit. Take responsibility and ask the question.