To brave the wilderness and become the wilderness we must learn how to trust ourselves and trust others.
‘Belonging’ … what emotions does that word bring up in you?
For me belonging is a complicated concept. I left Australia at the age of four and returned at fourteen. During these first years of my life I lived in eight different cities. I never lived in a country for more than three years at a time. I am what is called a Third Culture Kid (TCK).
I was Australian by birth, English by accent and international in outlook.
Some of the places that I still feel most comfortable are airports, airplanes and hotels. These are by definition places of transition. These are places that are temporary and in constant flux. They are not places to establish roots.
Belonging for me, as a child, became an exercise in fitting in as quickly as possible to my new country, my new culture and (crucially) my new school. People-pleasing was a survival strategy and adapting became second nature to me.
These are habits that have carried over into adulthood. A constant sensitivity to what people may be thinking. A chameleon-like tendency to blend into the background. An adaptive nature that takes into account other people before myself.
In Braving the Wilderness, Brené Brown crucially distinguishes between belonging as I have described above; a false belonging of fitting in, people-pleasing or being part of the crowd. She adds that important other word true, to belonging.
When Brené says in her definition of true belonging that, ‘True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.’
My natural question is, ‘How do I know who I am?’
Thankfully this is a question that I have asked myself numerous times over the years.
I am more sure of who I am now, in my early forties, than I would have been in my twenties. I have grown into an understanding of what is not true to my essence and comes from my desire to fit in. I can now pinpoint more accurately what genuinely comes from my core.
It’s not been easy, it’s required that I do the work, the important internal work of asking myself, ‘What do I really think about this?’ and ‘What do I feel about that?’
It has required that I turn off the internal filter that monitors exactly what everyone else believes. It has required me to sit with opinions and feelings that may be contrary to what others think. It has required me to be vulnerable with myself and with others. It is deeply uncomfortable. It goes against all the survival strategies I learned as a child.
I am not there yet. I still have days, where I come home and kick myself, because I chose the easy path. The path of fitting in and comfort. But I am finding, the more I practice this internal work of trusting myself, the more I feel truly me.
So my question to you today is: What gets in the way of being who you are?
Comment below, or come and join the conversation over on our Facebook group, ‘Mondays with us’.
As we continue to brave the wilderness together,