What does it mean to belong?
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you fit in with a group of people, you could get along with them, even enjoy yourself to some degree, but did not really feel that you could be yourself? Maybe you felt you had to shield certain comments or beliefs based on a fear that they would no longer accept you, or you would stand out as an outsider?
One of my favorite authors and research professors Brené Brown says that this is "fitting in", and there is a difference between fitting in and belonging. In her philosophy, fitting in is actually the opposite of belonging. When we belong and feel connected, we have the ability to be our true authentic selves. We are able to express ourselves in a way that resonates for us without any fear of losing friends or making an embarrassing comment that causes us to feel shame.
One thing that comes to mind these days is the way we show ourselves through social media. We often want to show that we have a perfect life or perfect experiences, especially through something like Instagram. We only post a portion of the reality, after all, we are only posting just one picture.
However, isn't there true gifts in our imperfections? Doesn't this make up the rest of the picture of who we are? Isn't this how we find our community?
I had been reflecting on 2018, and what a truly and deeply transformational year it was for me personally. While I had been practicing yoga, I had been struggling mentally to understand my purpose, I wanted to avoid certain truths about myself and others by constantly keeping busy, never spending time alone, surrounding myself with people who did not understand or know me, and honestly did not wish to. I realized that in the process was inauthentic to myself. That year of pain was a blessing in disguise of course, as I never would have found "my people"!
As Clarissa Pinkola Estes says in "Women who run with the wolves":
"If you have attempted to fit whatever mold (expectations of your society/original community) and failed to do so you are probably lucky. You may be an exile of some sort, but you have sheltered your soul. There is an odd phenomenon that occurs when one keeps trying to fit in and fails. Even though the outcast is driven away, she is at the same time, driven right into the arms of her psychic and true kin".