I was in the middle of writing a blog post when Lowell showed me this section in Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly. The quote shot straight to a deep place in my soul. Brown had identified and articulated so clearly the struggle I was trying to capture in the post I was agonizing over. I’m abandoning my efforts this morning. Receive rather this from Brene Brown:
“One of the biggest surprises in this research was learning that fitting in and belonging are not the same thing. In fact, fitting in is one of the greatest barriers to belonging. Fitting is is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”
She goes on to explain how she asked a large group of eighth graders to break into small groups and brainstorm the differences between fitting in and belonging. Their insightful answers were spot on.
“Belonging is being somewhere where you want to be, and they want you. Fitting in is being somewhere where you really want to be, but they don’t care one way or the other.
Belonging is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else.
I get to be me if I belong. I have to be like you to fit in.” *
Brown’s quote is tucked into a chapter on parenting. She emphasizes the importance of children having a sense that they belong in their own family. For me the issue is broader than parenting or family structure. Belonging and fitting in have been a part of my struggle to settle as an adult wherever I’ve landed.
I’ve been mulling these themes over in my head this week. I’ve been trying to come to a deeper place of acceptance of who I am –even trying to embrace those spaces that still don’t seem to fit in, or those times where I’m still not convinced I belong. I’m afraid I have yet to land on firm conclusions but I invite you into the process. I’m praying for insight. I’m asking Jesus for his opinion on these things. I’m telling my struggle’s story to a few close friends. I’ve met with my soul care provider and mentor, Diann. Certainly the struggle has served as an invitation to trust God in deeper ways and for that I can be grateful.
Brene Brown asked eighth graders, let me ask you. What has been your experience in the difference between fitting in and belonging?
*Brene Brown, Daring Greatly (New York: Avery, 2012), 232.