I feel out place in modern society: Coping strategies for living in Muggleworld

March 8 | Guest post by Hyldeblomst
The Muggle Struggle is Real tote bag from Etsy seller GenuineDesignCo

You wouldn't know from looking at me across the street, but I feel ill at ease in the world I inhabit. Supposedly I fit in. I don't stick out in appearance, social life, nor work from my peers. I fit the bill of "normal" quite well. And, I would say, my life is in many ways a lovely and wholesome one.

…Except that a growing amount of time has me wishing that I could uproot my home, family, and friends, and move to some remote island.

I am not quite sure what we would be doing, apart from drinking coffee, planting vegetables and watching them grow. It is still kind of fuzzy to me. Especially brought on by the fact that most of my friends would be downright displeased with living on a distant island, removed from the hubbub of modern society. I can't really blame them for that. It's just that often I feel very much out of tune with modern society.

I recognize that part of the problem is that I am very much an introvert stuck in an extrovert world. A world where social availability, constant adaptability, and an outgoing personality are seen as core qualities of a life well lived. As a person who feels emotionally drained when faced with too many people, projects, and ambitions, this is tiring and unwelcome.

I do the bat cave thing, as any sensible introvert would do. I send my husband (who is notoriously outgoing) out to meet with friends. I put the children to bed. And I make myself busy with making snacks, and idle with sitting on the sofa. I do my utmost to escape to other worlds where no one has EVER ever ever heard of Linkedin, Facebook, networking, self-help books, diets, and smartphones… (I could continue with the list for at least half a page more, but I hope that you get the basic point).

My friends say that I may have been born a century, or two, too late.

I lose myself to other climates far friendlier to my soul. I lose myself not to a lesser life, but to the straightforward and magical life of books, art, and food.

My problem is this: as I grow older, it is quite often not enough. I can barely manage recharging my batteries within the time that is available to me. I don't think there is a bat cave large enough, or enough Fridays in the foreseeable decade, to make me regain my breath. I simply feel outpaced by modern society as a whole.

I am not overworked or stressed out, but, as my friends jokingly say, I may have been born a century or two too late. Personally, I think an alternate and more mellow dimension of this world would have sufficed.

I don't really have the option of leaving. I don't want to either. I love the people around me, even though their company sometimes drain my batteries. I love my friends, my party-going husband, my noisy kids, and everything in between.

But I am wondering if perhaps there are tribespeople out there with the same problem as me, and good ideas. Like: How do you find inner peace in large quantities when muggle life keeps knocking on your front door, and moving to the wilderness is just not an option?

How do you cope when you feel out of place in modern society?

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  1. My partner tells me almost daily that I'm 200 years old. I had a timeless childhood- mostly spent in the garden with the cat, with very little technology. I amused myself with books, baking, sewing, knitting, etc. As such, I found myself utterly unprepared for the harsh glow of modern adult life.

    The best solution I've found is to make my home a refuge. I do like some movies and games, but for the most part my house is stocked with traditional, classic items. Antiques aren't expensive if you buy more casual pieces, or do some repair yourself.

    To a certain point, though, I've had to adapt to technology. I m disabled now, and I use a wheelchair with power assist wheels. It's a modern, metal monstrosity- complete with blinking LEDs. But, I love the freedom, and so I love the chair. Also, it's purple.

    My advice is to find the specific things that call to you. Artistic, bohemian lifestyle circa 1910? Get some white paint, sturdy wooden furniture, and an easel. Country cottage mama circa 1850? Learn old bread recipes, sewing, etc. I quite enjoy baking, so learning to use ancient recipes was a lot of fun.

    5 agree
  2. I think that inner peace comes from living your most authentic life possible.

    That doesn’t mean escaping to an island – although I certainly understand the temptation. It means looking at modern society and saying, “This is my life, this is my family’s life, and I don’t have to do things your way.”

    There’s so much pressure on us to maintain a certain lifestyle in order to be contributing members of society. To keep up with friends on social media, to answer texts and emails right away, to get the kids to all the activities they “need” to participate in. Pressure, pressure, pressure. But the truth is, the world won’t end if you disassociate yourself from the grind. I'm speaking from experience!

    Like Cait said, find the subject or the activity or the historical period that really speaks to you and explore it. It will lead you to restructure your life in such a way that it brings you peace and fulfillment.

    Good luck 🙂

    5 agree
    • I totally agree. I've never had a Facebook account, and I don't do many of the things considered fun by society. Maybe there was some pushback back when I was a teenager, but ever since it's been a non-issue. Maybe I just don't care enough to notice. I don't even feel the pressure.

      3 agree
  3. Making stuff. I find my peace better if I am not passive. Baking, sewing, cooking, knitting, painting, creating decor. Also, photography with an old (non-digital) camera, fiddling with lenses and exposition, the suspense of not knowing if your pics are any good until development.

    What bugs me about the modern world is the disposability of it all, and the instant gratification.

    5 agree
  4. Several years ago, I was able to transition to half-time work and it made a big difference for me as an introvert. It took some time to convince my husband that it was a good plan, but I offered to take on a lot more of the household jobs – which I enjoy better than a career anyway. A half day at home alone – even filled with chores – gives me more quiet time to recharge. It is surprising how meditative household chores can be when you aren't in a frazzled rush. After only a few months, my husband was happier too. It gave us both a better work-life balance. It also left me more time and energy at the end of the day/week for social activities. He is more extroverted and had gone to social functions alone sometimes, but was happier having me along and not having to make excuses for me. Financially, there are trade offs. Many of the work related expenses were cut back – meals out were a big one. There are some big drawbacks though. I gave up benefits like paid vacation, insurance, and retirement savings. It took some time and planning to find a part-time job in my field and to create a new budget. I found the book "Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robbin helped me create the plan. Since then, I have found the book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain to be very comforting. For me, working part-time is a great solution and I know how blessed I am since I don't think I could manage it if I were single.

    5 agree
  5. I struggle with this as well though we did move from the city to a small town in the forest… on an island. Though now all I want is a smaller town in a bigger forest on a smaller island. I've found a job where I work remotely and that has made a huge difference. I have found I have more energy now to keep up with my two year old and even look forward to social activities!!!

    1 agrees
  6. Perhaps every few months, maybe 3 or 4 times a year, you could schedule a weekend away for yourself? This would give you something to look forward to when you are feeling overwhelmed. It would be like a cave or island, in fact it could actually be those things if you can find/afford them, or it could just be a quiet motel with hiking trails nearby. There could be a monastery that has silent retreats, or an airbnb in the offpeak season. It could be a friends holiday shack. I know I keep myself going by thinking of hiding in my room with the door shut, many times a day. It is my tiny piece of peace in an often too busy world, and I guess it's how I balance things out.

  7. 1. I see some boundary issues here. Friendship doesn't mean pressuring other people into activities that they don't want, or demanding frequent maintenance. It's time to come out of the closet as an introvert, explaining that no, it is not a mental illness (it's surprising how many people think it is!) but simply a personality trait. You were born that way. You don't need to be something else. Find out who your real friends are: the ones who accept you as you are.

    2. Use the money you save not entertaining/going out so much to get vacations out into nature. It's a soul nutrient that you sound starved for.

    3. Garden. If you don't have garden-space, grow potted plants. Get a plant-lamp if you have to. Google miniature gardens and create your own living world.

    4. Encourage your kids, too, to appreciate nature, curling up with good books, time spent silent, etc. Take them out on a silent expedition, communicating only with gestures, to someplace beautiful and interesting, in or out of the city. They will thank you years later.

  8. Making active choices is the key for me – walking, getting into nature, etc. The OP might also like to consider joining a meditation group, or some kind of shared activity or class (yoga?) or a faith group that values quiet time away from technology.

    I think making active choices helps you to explain your needs to other people – "This weekend I'd like to do some gardening/go hiking/do some yoga" might be easier for them to support than "I can't face going to that party".

  9. Love this big time, you described my life, my husband, and noisy kids all in one story. My current mode of getting away is definitely reading as much as possible, but hot steamy baths with the jets on. Works like a charm. Good luck to you !

  10. After many many years of not-quite-what-I-was-looking-for, I have built myself a quiet little life suitable to my introvert desires.
    Oddly enough, I work in hospitality. So I spend my 40 hours a week surrounded by people, having to be friendly and outgoing. It can be mentally exhausting, so I have balanced that by making my home my refuge. I'm single, so no spouse or children. I've found a little place in the country, about 5 miles outside of a tiny little town. (I do have some close neighbors that I am friendly with, so I have someone I can chat with if I am feeling sociable.) I don't have a television, and make very little use of social media. My home is quiet and peaceful. I read a LOT, I cook, I take naps. If the weather is nice, I go hiking – there are several nice trails not too far away.
    Even with the quiet life I've made, I still feel the need to get away from "real life" every once in a while. Probably about once every other month I get out of town for a weekend. Generally just to someplace within a few hours drive – I find a beautiful place I haven't been to before to go hiking, or check out an interesting small town. Sometimes I'll go to a larger city and take in some museums and "culture".
    It's been about a year and a half since I found this place and finally got what I had been looking for so long – peace and quiet. I am finding that sometimes it gets a little too lonely, so I'm still working on the balance. But it's a good start.

    1 agrees
  11. Hello fellow Scandinavian, I think you just described my thoughts on life exactly!

    My work and study is in environmental protection and biology, and I think that knowing for a fact that the way we as a society over-exploit our natural resources will ruin our future, contributes a whole deal to my discomfort with modern society. My head spins with dreams of living a secluded life on an island watching vegetables grow and let go of all unneeded modern commodities. But my head is also full with dreams of beeing a social entrepreneur to help my society change into a better version of itself. I have a ton of good ideas, my problem is that I am overwhelmed just by the thought of putting myself in the center of anything at all. So now I conceal myself in a governmental job, and save as much of my energy for my tiny family. This is a short-term solution, until I find my island, or whatever fate awaits me.

    I've become increasingly aware of this discomfort in the last year, probably because I finally stopped trying to push myself. Now I'm trying to ease into things, see how it works out (thanks, yoga with Adriene :)). Most importantly I stopped beating myself up whenever my vision of myself doesn't fit reality.

    1 agrees
  12. Wow, I related to this a lot, thank you for putting it into words. The biggest reason I feel out of place is this society is because I'm not into technology at all. I don't have nor want a smart phone. I'm content with my laptop and hate the few tablets I've ever used. I want to hold a real book in my hands, not a kindle. I had an iPod once, barely used it, and when it died I didn't care. I do have a Facebook but that's mainly for cat memes and to find out about what's happening in my local theater scene. I tried Twitter for a day and hated it.
    What bothers me about this is that I feel in some instances that I'm being left behind or left out because of my lack of technological knowledge or interest. Considering I'm only 28 years old I imagine this feeling is only to get worse as time goes on …

  13. Loving life without a cell phone (haven't had one), wearing a watch or participating in social media.

  14. The only thing that I've found that helps is working a job where I can work from home. This allows me to have a day that, while I *am* working, I'm not interfacing with people and can introvert more. Self-care and me time are important, but you're right- when society lauds "hustle" and constant social connection, it's impossible not to feel like you're 'doing it wrong' or short yourself on quality bat cave time.

    Where I am, there are several small islands, and the people who live on them are your tribe. They are productive members of society, but being more isolated and insular, they can communally cultivate different social pressures. Although all the islands here are mobbed by tourists and summertime residents three months out of the year, more islanders I've spoken to chose to live in that community precisely because they wanted that sort of protected, less-flustery life. Granted, you have a longer commute or a more creative work-from-home job, and the price of everything goes up, but maybe there's a slightly more isolated community near you, which you could relocate to, and slowly detox from the other pressures (like social media). Good luck!

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