Why Am I Like This?

Updated November 3, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Why Am I Like This? I Feel So Different

Does this scene sound familiar to you?

Everyone else appears perfectly comfortable and at ease. You might think, "I'm so tired of being so different from everyone else. How did I get this way? Why am I like this?"

You may find yourself not having the same interests, hobbies, drives, or passions as the people around you. Perhaps you ask yourself, "Why am I like this?"

You may be left wondering how other people interact in the way they do with such ease and how they are finding joy in things that you are not. You may even experience anxiety about going to parties, as once you get there you see people standing in small groups against the wall or gathered around the kitchen table. Instead of feeling included, maybe you have a jittery, anxious feeling.

Do you wonder why no one else ever seems to have this problem?

Feeling Out Of Sync

Despite appearances, you may find it comforting to know that you are far from alone in feeling like you're different from everyone else. In fact, being different is quite common, and uniqueness (of many varieties) is more the norm than the exception. Many people ask themselves, "Why am I like this?" for a variety of reasons.

If you have a mental illness, of any severity, the feelings of being "out of sync" with the world around you can at times feel even more pronounced.

Below is an explanation of how you might experience this feeling as a result of specific mental illnesses. (This is not an exhaustive list of mental illnesses, nor is it a given that you have any of the ones listed below.)

  • Major Depressive Disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5), major depressive disorder is characterized by a number of symptoms that last for two or more weeks, including depressed mood, sleep disturbance, tiredness, and impaired concentration. With major depressive disorder, you may find it difficult to feel interested in activities, even when your well-meaning friends and family try to encourage you.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Do you ever feel like you cannot make plans without knowing exactly who is going to be there, what time you're leaving, and what route you're taking to get there. If someone doesn't show up, do you automatically assume that they have been in an accident? Many people with generalized anxiety disorder ask themselves, "Why am I like this?" for worrying about things others don’t worry about.
  • Panic Attacks. Have you ever suddenly felt terrified for seemingly no reason? If so, you may have experienced a panic attack. Different from anxiety, panic attacks involve symptoms such as shaking, sweating, and having a racing heart.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Do you often feel the need to repeat certain behaviors in a way that interferes with your daily routine? Some people who experience this have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD may manifest as a need to repeatedly check something, such as checking that you've turned out all the lights in your apartment.

If these behaviors sound familiar to you, you can take comfort in knowing that these feelings are common. Statistics show that one in five Americans experiences some form of mental illness every year. One in 25 of them experiences a mental illness to such a severe degree that it dramatically limits their day-to-day functioning.

So, while it may feel like you are all alone, the reality is that one-fifth of the people at that crowded party may be experiencing symptoms every bit as troubling as yours, asking themselves, "Why am I like this?" In fact, they may be so busy worrying about their problems that your idiosyncrasies are not even on their radar.

Regardless of whether you experience anxiety, depression, or some other illness, there is help available through online therapy. In fact, research shows that online therapy can help with both depression and social anxiety.

A New Way To Understand Your Differentness

Consider these famous success stories of people who probably wondered why they were so different from everyone else.

  • Walt Disney started his career as a newspaper artist for the Kansas City Star. He was fired because his editor thought he had no imagination or good ideas. He went on to start a studio called Laugh-o-Grams, which soon had to declare bankruptcy. Undeterred, Walt went on to craft the early Mickey Mouse cartoons and found the Disney empire that we know today.
  • It is well known that the great President Abraham Lincoln had humble beginnings, growing up in a shack in Kentucky and walking miles to borrow books from the nearest library to teach himself to read. Although he went on to achieve great success as a lawyer and statesman, those who knew him were familiar with his "mysterious and profound melancholy," which ultimately was diagnosed as depression.
  • Marilyn Monroe spent much of her early life in orphanages and foster homes. When she embarked on a modeling career, she was told she should consider becoming a secretary instead. Her acting career later grossed over $200 million, and even today her luminescent beauty is remembered. 

As you can probably see from these examples, uniqueness and greatness often dwell in the same person.

It takes great courage to embrace one’s differences, and it can be painful. However, those who can do so may find an enormous amount of success in life by being true to themselves.

Coping With Your Differentness

That all sounds great, but how do you cope with the day-to-day pain of living in a world where you feel like you don't fit in? How do you handle the social costs and the general feeling of aloneness?

Here are some steps that may be helpful.

  1. Embrace your unique qualities. Instead of beating yourself up, learn to love those things about yourself that make you different. Those who experience different forms of anxiety and depression are often highly sensitive and creative. 
  2. Find your group. Build relationships with individuals and groups with whom you have things in common. Find others who see your strengths and weaknesses and spend time with them as often as you can. 
  3. Educate others. Become an expert on yourself and use your knowledge and confidence to disarm others of their preconceptions and stereotypes. 
  4. Focus on the qualities that make you human. No matter how different from other humans you may feel, remember that we all have certain commonalities. We all get scared. We all need love and validation. We all experience hope, despair, joy, and sadness. 
  5. Get help if you need it. It can be challenging to deal with the stigma of mental illness in addition to your symptoms and the demands of day-to-day life. Don't feel that you have to cope in silence. At BetterHelp, we can connect you with an online therapist to help you make sense of it all. With online therapy, you can obtain help without having to go to a therapist’s office.


So, next time you show up to a party and begin experiencing that "Why am I like this?" thought train, remember that you are not alone and that others often feel the same way. With online therapy, you can get help from a professional therapist who is experienced at helping people who feel they are different.

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