True belonging means fitting in nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Wait… what?
“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all.” – Maya Angelou
I recently read Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown. I read this book with a group of friends and we had some really engaging discussions. This book studies this concept of true belonging and its antithesis; loneliness. No, not being alone or feeling alone, but deep-seated loneliness.
Have you ever met someone who is authentic? Someone who seems to be their same self in whatever social circle they find themselves in. They don’t really change how they act or what they say. They don’t seem to care what people think of them, and no not in an angry vindictive way, but in a daily self-honoring practice of authenticity. Can you think of someone like that?
is this someone you are fond of? I would guess yes. That type of authenticity, or fully embracing one’s self and all identity components, is hard to come by and very appealing to the outside eye. Those type of people are fun to be around. These are the people that belong everywhere…and also nowhere. These people are moving towards true belonging.
Sometimes we find this belonging when we move closer to those that are so very different from ourselves. Because…
Strangers are hard to hate when you get to know them
It really is true. When we spend time hearing other’s stories, and removing ourself from our bubble of people who think and look just like us, we often find that we can find connection with our fellow humans. This is possible and I would say even probable when we spend meaningful and intentional time with others whom we see as different from ourselves.
But don’t take my word for it. Watch this incredible video!
Pretty incredible, right? These individuals learned more about one another and themselves in the process.
Standing Apart Isn’t Always Easy
Sometimes we need to stand apart. The truth of the matter is…there will be blowback. If you go against the tide, others may be upset about it. If you speak up and say, “no I don’t think that’s right.” Or, “I’m going to do it this way,” some people aren’t going to like it. Standing in the wilderness of true belonging is scary, but it will develop a strong sense of courage. You’ll have to be vulnerable, but in that you will see a courage and strength you may have never known resided in you. You may have to be a tribe of 1. Do it with respect. Listen to your gut.
*All of these ideas are derived from Mrs. Brown’s book. I really do recommend giving it a read if you often experience loneliness or need support in standing alone in a sea of people stepping together.
What do we sacrifice when we don’t achieve true belonging? What gets in our way of getting there?