“Kill your darlings.” ~ William Faulkner
Since I was a little girl, I have desperately wanted to fit in.
The one thing that I wanted more than anything in the world was to be accepted.
I still have a memory of coming home from second grade one day and crying to my parents that no one wanted to sit with me at lunch.
The thing I wanted most constantly eluded me.
So, I created stories about myself.
“They don’t like you because you’re fat. They don’t like you because your clothes aren’t right. They don’t like you because you have acne or make silly jokes or laugh too loud or are too sensitive.”
And so I learned to change.
Eating disorders, compulsive shopping and toxic relationships followed me into adulthood.
And it worked—on the outside.
The drug of belonging became a drug that masked my feelings of “not-enoughness.” Like a chameleon, I changed my colors to adapt to whatever situation I was in.
Need to lose 10 pounds to fit into a bridesmaid’s dress? No problem.
Move in with a boyfriend that looks good on paper, even though your heart is saying he’s not the one? Of course.
Get a job that crushes your soul daily but makes your parents happy? Check, check and check.
The thing is, when we live in boxes, eventually what wants to come out will, even if we do our best to shove it away.
A nervous breakdown in the middle of a busy city street didn’t leave me much choice but to finally say,
“This is not who I am. There has to be something better. I am meant for more than this.”
The longing in my heart had become too loud. The pain of being in a box that was just too small had become unbearable. Even though it was scary, I could not stand it any longer.
And so I quit.
I quit the job. I quit the relationship. I quit the dieting.
But of course, it’s not enough to pay lip service. The lessons we need to learn will keep repeating until they have burned into our very souls. The universe does not let us get away with anything.
So, when I first started my business, I did the same thing. I compared myself to others, took all the webinars and online courses, did all the marketing techniques guaranteed to go from zero to six figures overnight.
And guess what? None of them worked.
For the first six months of my business, I signed exactly two clients. Not exactly an overnight success story.
Suddenly, (I realized like a lightning bolt during yoga one day), I was doing it again. I was becoming a chameleon, a facsimile of myself, something that I thought people would accept and love.
I was terrified that if I spoke what was on my heart, people would think I was too “weird” or “out there.”
I wouldn’t get to sit at the lunch table.
I realized that to truly have the impact I so desperately wanted, the one that I knew in my heart was within me, I would have to do the scariest thing of all—give up belonging so I could become myself.
And so, I finally stopped running.
I looked my fears in the face. I snuggled with my “not-enoughness” until it stopped thrashing and finally stilled. I offered myself love and compassion over and over again until the small, terrified parts of me stopped screaming.
And I found my voice, the voice that had always been there, beneath the fears and the pain and the shapeshifting. My true, authentic self that wanted nothing more than to be free.
Once I was able to offer myself the belonging that I’d always so desperately wanted, what other people thought became less of an issue.
And the irony of that is, once I was able to give up caring what people thought, or worrying about fitting in, or being afraid of what they would say, I found the belonging I’ve always been looking for.
It’s a practice. With every new level, it comes up again. But I am committed to being free. And that only comes when I’m myself.
People want to know the real us. Whatever your experience has been with rejection, or not belonging, or “not-enoughness,” it happened so you could grow and learn and experience the pain and the joy of finally being accepted for who you truly are.
It is painful and scary. Many of us have lives and lives of toxic beliefs, fears and pain around being authentic. But our souls did not come here to live in a box. It’s time to let them out.
When we can give up trying to belong, we can finally be free.
Author: Natalie Ann Taggart
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith /Editor: Travis May