I’ve been reading (and re-reading) The Gifts of Imperfection for a couple of weeks. The focus of the book is letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be to embrace our true selves and live a wholehearted life. Our time in life is limited, who doesn’t want to experience it with their whole heart?
One of the first things Brené Brown, the author, addresses is the difference between fitting in and belonging:
“Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be 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.”
I remember being in middle school and carrying around one of these lovelies…
I’m pretty sure mine was dark purple and covered in glitter. If I had the same purse as everyone else, I fit in and there was no reason not to like me…right?!
Fitting in is a way to protect our vulnerability and it truly can be a skill. You learn to be a chameleon, to read other people quickly, mimicking their phrases and body language, pretending to have the same interests or only revealing the things you have in common with them. It becomes a “hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing and proving.”
What does fitting in look like?
- Putting the funky dress back on the rack because no one else you know would wear it
- Keeping your opinions to yourself to avoid rocking the boat
- Assuming your loved ones will say no to an event/concert/activity that’s outside their norm and not bothering to invite them
- Postponing joining the walking club, the book club, the dance lessons, etc. because you want to look like you know what you’re doing
- Saying yes to karaoke although singing in front of people makes you break out in hives
- Walking into a room and hoping that the names of the people you don’t know will come up casually in conversation
- Pretending you know all about that band your friend is talking about when you’ve never heard a single song
All that fitting in can be exhausting! It’s difficult to be two different people, the version you show to others, and the version you really want to be. When you accept yourself, flaws and all, you don’t need other people’s approval and acceptance, because you’re already living a life true to yourself. It becomes okay if not everyone likes you, because you like you.
What does belonging look like?
- Wearing the funky dress everywhere just because you love it
- Inviting your colleagues to disagree with your opinions and creating genuine dialogue
- Being excited about sharing your passions and activities with the ones you love, especially if it’s new to them
- Joining the club or taking the lessons and proudly saying “I’m a beginner, teach me everything you know!”
- Saying “no” to an activity and knowing it’s okay. You may not have all the same exact interests as every one of your friends and loved ones, but that’s what makes you different, interesting and fun.
- Walking into a room and introducing yourself to all the new faces because you’re someone worth knowing
- Inviting your friends to share their authentic selves by saying “I’ve never heard of that band. What about their music do you love?”
When you stop worrying about what other people think, you get a chance to be your kooky, wonderful self and engage in every moment of life. And, just as important, you show the people you love and meet that it’s okay for them to be their authentic selves as well.
“I try to make authenticity my number one goal when I go into a situation where I’m feeling vulnerable. If authenticity is my goal and I keep it real, I never regret it. I might get my feelings hurt, but I rarely feel shame. When acceptance or approval becomes my goal, and it doesn’t work out, that can trigger shame for me: “I’m not good enough.” If the goal is authenticity and they don’t like me, I’m okay. If the goal is being liked and the don’t like me, I’m in trouble.”
I’ll be remembering this every time I step out of my comfort zone, and I hope you will too. Let’s keep it real, people!
P.S. I’m a new blogger so I don’t have enough page views to be bribed to give positive product reviews…all opinions and thoughts are my own, just the way I like it.