From Outsider to Insider: How to Fit In As an Immigrant

The need to belong is fundamental.
Being a part of a group has ensured our survival for millennia. While now we may not need an actual tribe to make a bonfire and keep us warm, we still want to be accepted by others.
According to a study conducted in 2020, there’s a connection between a sense of belonging and increased happiness and well-being. Being part of a supportive group that loves and accepts you also significantly reduces the risk of anxiety and depression.
That’s why building your tribe should be one of the priorities upon arrival.
The task is much easier when you're a student because you naturally spend time with people of your age and similar interests.
The picture is a bit different for adults, especially those who work remotely, are socially awkward, introverts, or have limiting beliefs such as “I’m not like them” or “Everyone already has friends”.
Let’s take a closer look at these limiting beliefs.

“I’m not like them”

I remember a chat I had with a Polish friend.
I said that I don’t feel connected with the locals. I felt like " I will never be Polish enough". I lived in Poznań, Poland at that time and most of my friends were foreigners.
He smiled at me and said he won’t fit in all Polish groups either. If he goes to the football club, for example, he will feel like an outsider and his passport won’t make a difference.
It struck me. It’s not about nationality. For sure I won’t fit in all Ukrainian groups either. And I don't want to.
We’re all foreigners somewhere.
Even if you change your surname, your passport, your accent. There will always be someone for whom you remain a stranger.
What if you don't have to fit in after all?
Rather than trying to fit into established groups, you can create your own community with people you genuinely like—those who don’t question or judge you.
When you surround yourself with people who know your journey, who will make a bonfire for you in times of need, you won’t be foreign anymore. You’ll find your place of belonging.

“Everyone already has their friend groups”

Our social circles are not static. If it was true, after a certain age people would stop making new friends at all.
On every stage of our lives we need a different group, a new friend with fresh perspectives. It was fun to go dancing with college friends, but at this time of your life you might need someone who is just like you trying to navigate a tax system in a foreign country or wants to play badminton on Sundays.
Not only our priorities and interests change. We change internally. Behaviors shift, opinions evolve, and we need folks who can accept this updated version of ourselves.
There are others out there who want to build meaningful relationships.
Just like you.
Recognize that you are not alone in being alone. We never know what happens in other people’s lives, and we should never assume they don't have the capacity for a new friend. Instead, invite them over, cook them soup when they're sick.
You don’t need to win over the entire society or fit in everywhere. What's important is finding someone who will eagerly say, 'Oh, me too!' in a conversation.
A few years back, when I moved to a new city, I had a chat with a colleague. He was also new in town and he shared how lonely it can get on the weekends.
Relieved that I wasn't alone, I responded with a simple, "Me too!"
Just like that, a couple of outsiders formed a group.