Get All Access for $5/mo

5 Reasons to Stop Trying to Fit In When you try too hard to fit in, you lose a part of yourself in the process.

By Kim Perell Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Peter Cade | Getty Images

We're all born with this innate desire to be accepted. To fit in.

The trouble is… when you try too hard to fit in, you lose a part of yourself in the process.

And what the world needs most is for you to be you – bold, unapologetic, thoughtful, creative, take-the-world-by-storm you.

Related: How Women Entrepreneurs Can Use Execution for Startup Success

Standing out is lonely. It's awkward. It's scary. But you have to be different to make a difference. I've never been someone who fit in very easily. I've always pushed the limits, took risks, and gone after whatever the heck I wanted.

When I was in grade school, I worried about fitting in. But trying to be like everyone else made me unhappy. I wasn't like everybody else. Instead of playing with dolls and having tea parties, I wanted to ride a unicycle and walk on stilts. Instead of playing sports, I wanted to ride horses. But horseback riding lessons were expensive, and my parents could only afford two lessons a month. Two lessons a month wasn't going to be sufficient for the type of rider I wanted to become, so I made a deal with the barn manager to work for the extra lessons. Seven hours of cleaning stalls equaled one hour of lessons. It was hard work but I was more than happy to do it so I could be with horses and around other people that also loved them.

Related: 3 Relationships That Will Build the Tribe Every Entrepreneur Deserves

As it turned out, the things that held me back the most from fitting in – my willingness to be different, like different things, to work hard and take risks, my relentless optimism, and my refusal to take no for an answer – are some of the very qualities I attribute my success to. Here are five reasons why fitting in is overrated:

1. Trying to fit in is not healthy for you

Trying to be someone you're not can make you unhappy, add unnecessary stress to your life, and negatively affect your spiritual, mental and physical health. It's exhausting trying to be someone you are not. I operate at 100% frequency (It's high, I know) but when I try and dial this down to 93%, I feel off. I feel tired. Today, I make it a point to spend time with people that are attracted to my 100% authentic self.

2. Trying to fit in stifles creativity

Strict rules and norms aren't great for creativity. Neither is judgment, embarrassment, or shame. Give yourself the space to create something new instead of trying to be what everyone expects you to be. You don't need to be front and center to be valuable. For example, in a play, the person wouldn't be on the stage without a scriptwriter, a director, stage manager, or costume designer. There are a lot of valuable parts to pulling off a play that are equally creative. Same in sports and in business. The best teams I have been a part of are the ones that have the most diversity.

3. Trying to fit in holds you back from reaching your maximum potential

Once you start living your life for yourself instead of for other people, amazing things happen. Invest your energy into becoming the best possible version of yourself instead of trying to gain everyone else's approval. Your differences are your strengths and what makes you powerful.

Related: How Resilience Led Me to Success

4. Trying to fit in doesn't get you what you really want

Is there a gap between what you actually want and what your parents, friends, co-workers, think you should want? What is your inner voice saying? Once you stop trying so hard to fit in, you'll be free to pursue the things that matter most to you (not to everyone else). After all, what success means to you is totally up to you.

5. Trying to fit in stops you from truly belonging

It's a little counterintuitive, but once you stop trying so hard to fit in, you'll be able to let your true self be known and have more meaningful relationships. When you allow yourself to be true to yourself, you attract people with similar interests and find new friends.

If you have always found it difficult to blend into the crowd, that's a sign that you were never meant to. Have the courage to stand out, embrace your talents and strengths, and shake things up – you and the rest of the world will be much better off for it.

Kim Perell

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

CEO of Perell Ventures

Kim Perell is an award-winning entrepreneur, bestselling author, CEO, and angel investor, who has made headlines for her transformative story of a startup entrepreneur to a leading tech CEO and prominent angel investor. Laid off from her dream job out of college, Kim started her first company from her kitchen table; going from broke to a multi-millionaire by the time she was 30, and selling her last company for $235 million.  Kim has been named one of AdAge’s Marketing Technology Trailblazers, Business Insider's Most Powerful Women in Mobile Advertising, Adweek’s Women Trailblazers, a John Maxwell Transformational Leader, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and an Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Association of Female Executives.  Kim’s passion is to help aspiring entrepreneurs achieve success and is an early stage angel investor in over 90 startups, 18 of which have successfully been acquired by some of the largest Fortune 500 companies. Kim’s first book, The Execution Factor, The One Skill That Drives Success, is a national bestseller, designed to help others achieve success in business and life by mastering execution.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

The Side Hustle He Started in His College Apartment Turned Into a $70,000-a-Month Income Stream — Then Earned Nearly $2 Million Last Year

Kyle Morrand and his college roommates loved playing retro video games — and the pastime would help launch his career.

Business News

A Former Corporate Lawyer Now Makes Six Figures on YouTube — Here's How She Does It

Here are the secrets to starting and growing a successful YouTube channel, according to a YouTuber with millions of subscribers.

Growing a Business

How to Determine The Ideal Length of Your Marketing Emails Your Customers Will Actually Read

Wondering how long your marketing emails should be? Here's what consumers say — so you can send them exactly what they like.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

Y Combinator Helped Launch Reddit, Airbnb and Dropbox. Here's What I Learned From Its Free Startup School.

The famed startup accelerator offers a free course on building a business — and answers five pressing questions for founders.