Today I finished reading Brené Brown's latest book: Braving The Wilderness. It's chocked full of insight on the subject of belonging. I was most affected by the three-point summary she offered, a byproduct of an eighth-grade focus group. When it comes to laying out the difference b/t Fitting In & Belonging, they really knock it outta the park:
"1. Belonging is being somewhere where you want to be and they want you. Fitting in is being somewhere where you want to be, but they don’t care one way or the other."
Um, you mean like that workshop retreat thingamajig I attended where I felt sorta ordinary-alienish (like I wasn't quite freaky-enough) and I raised my hand for a half-hour never to be called upon by a facilitator who I'd long adored. As a lifelong teacher's pet, I was shamefully devastated by her rejection, but maybe it wasn't so much that she didn't like me... perhaps she was innocently indifferent to my presence? Maybe I'm still worth listening to & these folks just aren't my people.
"2. Belonging is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else."
Ah yes, not long ago I received some 'you're not fitting in' feedback regarding my boogiebiz work. It's a new environment; I'm different than the norm and my Zumba classes are less sought after than I'm used to. I'd be lying if I said that my ego hasn't been bruised by the small numbers, but I'm stubborn not to give into my insecurities. I gotta do me, and I won't fake it in order to make it there. My slow-growing dance tribe will be worth the wait. Or not. If it doesn't happen, there are other clubs.
"3. If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, I fit in."
As far as I am concerned, this is everything. The people with whom I truly belong have staying power in my life - no matter the many often-annoying phases I go through as I flounder at the whole how-to-human thing (avoidant flaky friend, codependent serial love addict, new-agist-know-it-all, you get the drift)... these no matter what people are all-in due to the deeper threads that continue to connect us. I belong with people who earn my trust by speaking the truth kindly & to my face while welcoming me into their hearts regardless of my inherent flaws. God love 'em, I'd spend each day face down in a plate of brownies without the love of these folks.
My Dearly Beloved, Reader.
This Valentine's For You!