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  • Writer's pictureDenny Balish


Our need for belonging is universal and profound. Throughout life, finding places to belong becomes our ongoing quest. Yet, sometimes in our pursuit of connection, we end up sacrificing ourselves in a failed attempt to fit in.

Brené Brown, a social researcher, distinguishes the difference between fitting in and belonging in this way: “fitting in” is wanting to be part of a group, whereas “belonging” is a group wanting you to be a part of them.

In my experience, “fitting in” often required tempering or hiding some aspect of myself in order to be acceptable to others. Other times, it required me to do something outside my character or sense of personal integrity, which later, I undoubtedly regretted. In all, my attempts to “fit in” left me feeling ashamed and alone.

Belonging, on the other hand, required nothing more than showing up and being who I am. It created space for me to be me—beauty, blemishes and all.

Resisting the temptation to change into someone we are not in order to be accepted, takes courage. It requires living and speaking truth, no matter the consequence. Sometimes this means ending up alone. And that’s ok. Better to have yourself, then lose yourself to others.

I invite you to take a moment and bring to mind a time in your life when you struggled to fit in. Consider:

· What was the situation?

· What did you do in an attempt to fit in?

· How did that make you feel?

Now bring to mind a time in your life when you felt a deep sense of belonging. Consider:

· What was that situation?

· How did you know you belonged?

· How did that make you feel?

In a world where “fitting in” has become epidemic, it takes a brave soul to hold out for real connection. In our hearts, we know the difference between fitting in and true belonging. One leads to pain, the other, to love.

Choose love. Always.

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