belonging vs. fitting in

Image contents: a poppy in a field of larkspurs. Text says,“‘If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, I fit in.’ Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown”

I’ve long grappled with a sense of not quite fitting in wherever I go and have always wondered if everyone else feels that way. I suppose I was looking for belonging in my not-belonging-ness.

Riso and Hudson say that one of the defense mechanisms for 6s is identification (and I suspect for some other numbers too). Sometimes we over-identify with groups and belief systems as we seek to find safety in authorities because we struggle to trust ourselves.

In “Braving the Wilderness,” Brené Brown says, “If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, I fit in.”

As someone who is prone to over-identifying with a group, sometimes I privately, quietly push against conforming because of the need to be my authentic self. I have misinterpreted that as meaning that I don’t belong because I don’t hold all of the same beliefs or opinions of the vocal people in the group. The feeling of not belonging seems to have been my subconscious protection against losing my identity in a group.

On a walk, I was thinking and praying about these things.

“Look at the flowers,” I sensed God saying. “Do they belong, each one individually?”

I looked out at a field of wildflowers— mostly larkspurs, with a few poppies dotting the field here and there. Some blended in with those around them; others stood out.

The question seemed preposterous—of course each flower belonged. And then the thought came, “Each one belongs because it is there.”

Each flower had grown up in its own spot among the others, and by virtue of being there, it belonged.

Perhaps I can let go of the imposter syndrome that plagues me sometimes when I’m in a group and feel uncomfortable because parts of me seem so different than parts of others. Perhaps I belong because I am there, as myself, just as every other person does.

As we sit with the discomfort and learn that we can remain our authentic selves, we make space for each other person in the group to do the same. Our acceptance of our inherent belonging is an invitation for others to accept theirs, too.

As Richard Rohr says, “Everything belongs.”

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