On belonging and feeling “in place.”

“Contrary to what most of us think, belonging is not fitting in.  In fact, fitting in is the greatest barrier to belonging.  Fitting in, I’ve discovered during more than a decade or research, is assessing situations and groups of people, then twisting yourself into a human pretzel in order to get them to let you hang out with them.  Belonging is something else entirely – it’s showing up and letting yourself be seen and known as you really are…”  – Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection.

A few weeks ago, while taking a hike with my dad and two of our long-time family friends, I had the realization:  I do belong.  I am loved.  I have been searching for community for so much of my life, and while I can always meet more people I value and who value me, I have had it all along.  And most of all, I am continually learning to be vulnerable and show more of who I am.

I have tried so hard to fit in for so much of my life.  At times, to some degree, I have appeared successful.  Yet in retrospect, it did sometimes seem like I was contorting and compromising myself in order to succeed and be accepted on others’ terms.  I would gauge what I was saying and doing based on others’ reactions.  In the end, I burnt out, caught between the desire to fit in and the desire to be authentic.

I know the experience of alienation well, and of striving to be accepted.  I still find myself often feeling out-of-place.  There are also times where I feel settled and grounded, and “in place”:  in Nia classes; while creating art at home; in the woods breathing in the fresh air; while spending time talking with my love or a good friend.   I have found online communities where I express myself more freely.  I want to focus more on those places and experiences.  I want to cultivate the feeling of belonging, and truly know – and believe – that I belong in my own skin, with my own perspectives, on this earth.


One response to this post.

  1. Reblogged this on Marci, Mental Health, & More and commented:
    “In the end, I burnt out, caught between the desire to fit in and the desire to be authentic.” I can relate


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