Today I’m pondering the various understandings we have of “belonging,” and how that can change throughout our lives.
I think there are two kinds of belonging: The kind where you’re craving acceptance and longing to “fit in,” and the kind you can relax into, knowing that you are accepted for who you are.
In the first kind of belonging (shall we call it “belonging one?”), we are willing to change ourselves in order to be accepted into the “mainstream,” whatever that might be. Most of us remember behaving this way in our school years – we had to wear the right thing, use the right slang, hang out with the right people in order to “belong.” In “belonging one,” you dare not show your true self, for fear of rejection. It’s an act, and doesn’t bring real peace, even though it seems like it should.
In time, many of us mature into “belonging two” – we still long for a sense of community with others, but we’re not willing to sacrifice our own uniqueness. Instead, we long for our uniqueness to be embraced, even celebrated, by a few select others who understand us on a deep level. “Belonging two” is a comfortable place, where we are free to be authentic without fear of rejection for superficial things.
When you truly belong to someone, they also belong to you. It’s not about possessing someone else, but rather, recognizing that we are part of one another, and assuring each other that we are safe. You don’t have to give up anything, any part of who you are. You can bring it all to the party. You’re worthy as you are, right now.
This kind of belonging is hard, until it becomes easy. I think we have to get “belonging one” out of our systems before we can truly enjoy a life of “belonging two.” It doesn’t happen for everyone, but I hope it happens for you, and that you can gather a tribe around yourself that gives you a safe place to land, even when you aren’t perfect.
Especially when you aren’t perfect.
Winnie and the Professor