“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
~ Brené Brown
I am slightly obsessed with Brené Brown and if you have never heard of her before, allow me introduce you to her. She has a Ph.D. in Social Work and has been studying shame, courage and vulnerability for over fifteen years now. She has appeared on TED Talks, Oprah and has written inspiring books such as The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are and Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.
One of my favorite chapters she writes about is on fitting in vs. belonging. They are not the same thing and one gets in the way of the other. They are two sides of the same coin.
Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. It’s the disease to please. It’s chasing down some acceptance and worthiness so we can feel better about ourselves. “I will feel worthy when…” or “I’ll be whoever or whatever you need me to be, as long as I feel like I’m a part of this.” It’s an uncomfortable feeling. Remember high school?
Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are. True belonging only happens when we present our authentic selves, imperfections and all. It’s about self-love and self-acceptance and embracing who we are. Essentially, it’s the act of courage and unconditional love for ourselves. You know when you belong somewhere or with someone because you can feel it in your body. You feel loved at peace and free.
Therefore, fitting in gets in the way of belonging. It’s the gremlins that set up camp in our heads that tell us “you’re not good enough.” It’s hard to feel worthy of love and belonging when you listen to this little monster. The truth is, love and belonging means uncertainty but they still go together. And according to Brené, those who have a strong sense of love and belonging, have the courage to be imperfect.
I found this concept really interesting because many people believe that fitting in and belonging are the same thing when in fact they’re not. My question to you is this; are you living your life according to fitting in or belonging? The next question is why? Sometimes you just have to say “enough already” and let yourself off the hook.