Belonging Is The Opposite Of Fitting In

Recently I watched a special on Netflix called Brené Brown: The Call to Courage. She’s an expert on human connection, shame, and vulnerability. Some time into the show, she says, “The opposite of belonging … is fitting in.” 

This struck me as odd because at first, belonging and fitting in sound very similar. Perhaps even synonyms. Similar enough to where when she described them as opposites. I did a double take… Did I hear that right? I thought, “that’s like saying the opposite of being is existing.” 

But that’s exactly what she said. She went on to say, “True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are, it requires you to be who you are.” 

Hmm. So I thought about it and I quickly started seeing her point. Although the end result is the same; to be a part of something. The difference is the compromise it takes to be there. 

Even the term ‘fitting in’ has a connotation that it isn’t made for you. When you fit in, you’re working around something else. 

On the other hand, belonging gives the sense that you have a place. When you belong, you work with something and it works with you. When you belong, you don’t need to fit in. 

Are you there because you’re allowed to be? 

Or are you there because you’re supposed to be.

Now I see where she was coming from. 

The whole thing still seems like a paradox to me. But I see her point. It just required some time to reflect and think. Although I understand why some red flags went up when I heard this, I’m glad to have learned something today. 

I would recommend the special on Netflix, which is about an hour and 15 minutes. She also has a 20 minute TED Talk called The Power of Vulnerability | Berné Brown which I imagine covers many of the same ideas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o (However I have not watched the TED Talk). Thanks for reading.

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