I thought I was needy because I so desperately wanted to fit in….
And I didn’t realize that ‘fitting in’ wasn’t the same thing as belonging. The trouble with trying to ‘fit in’ is that we lose our own identity when we mold, create, and shape-shift into what we think others want. Just to fit in. Just to belong.
For all of you that respected your own value and didn’t bend over backwards to fit in (even if you were a gymnast), I honor you. I wanted to be like you. I thought I had to bend over backwards (and I’m not a gymnast) to fit in with you. To show you I was independent. To mock others who didn’t know their place in this world. And then to not get my feelings hurt when you found out the truth about me and shunned me for being a pretender.
Brene Brown writes, “Fitting in, I've discovered during the past decade of research, is assessing situations and groups of people, then twisting yourself into a human pretzel in order to get them to let you hang out with them. Belonging is something else entirely—it's showing up and letting yourself be seen and known as you really are—love of gourd painting, intense fear of public speaking and all.”
Yes, I was that human pretzel.
And in the process, my own dreams, aspirations, talents, hopes, and dreams got put away in some long-forgotten memento holder that was donated to charity.
And the question persists….where do I fit in? But what if that’s not the right question?
A slightly better question would be, ‘where do I belong?’ And an even better question would be ‘how do I acknowledge and appreciate my own unique gifts and then find situations, settings, or people where those gifts can flourish?’ We can embrace our true selves, be willing to show our uniqueness, and acknowledge that we have something special that will impact and enhance others.
There’s a lot of talk about ‘tribes’ today and finding your tribe. That’s true if you’re a coach or a leader trying to find your tribe and it’s true as a member or follower who is looking for a tribe. We need real connection that doesn’t come from social media.
The need to belong is common to us all. Notice the word ‘belong’ is not the same as ‘fit in.’ Even Abraham Maslow way back in 1943 knew that one of our basic human needs is to belong. It comes after our basic physiological needs (food, water, sleep) and our basic safety needs (security, employment).
So, I’m not being needy, I’m being human!
And on the other side of the desire to belong is the idea that we have to do everything ourselves – you know, the “Lone Wolf” syndrome. While I was being that human pretzel, others took the opposite path and became rebellious and fiercely independent. It’s ‘me against the world’ and ‘I’m doing it my way.’
Both sides simply hungry to have people accept us for who we are, with our foibles, inconsistencies, traits, quirks, and all the rest. Neither side knowing how to ask for what we need.
And now as adults, many of us still don’t know how to ask for what you need.
If you are struggling with asking for help, it’s time to stop struggling with our old stories and open up to your humanity. Call me. I’m here to help.
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CALL TO ACTION: In the next 24 – 48 hours
Would you like to get crystal clear on what you want to embrace in your life and describe the kind of lifestyle you want to create? Would you like support in uncovering how you can use your special gifts and talents to make a difference? Would you like to uncover hidden challenges that may be sabotaging you? Let’s have a Breakthrough session and we'll finish the call with you feeling renewed, re-energized, and inspired to start your Best Life EVER!
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Until next time
Have some fun, stay aware, and rock on!
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Believing in you and your possibilities
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Janet Kingsley is an effective 'Belief Change Expert' who helps clients transform frustration to focus, confusion to clarity, and self-doubt to self-confidence.