March 5, 2024

A Brené Brown Quote on Belonging that Hit me Hard.


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“The opposite of belonging is fitting in.” ~ Dr. Brené Brown.


This quote hit me hard because, for the past two decades, I’ve been trying to fit in wherever I’ve been.

Or wait, let me correct that—I’ve been fitting in.

I delved deeper into this idea: what is fitting in, and what is true belonging?

Fitting in is looking at a group and wondering: Who do I have to be? What do I have to say? How should I dress? How should I act? It’s changing who you are to fit in.

True belonging doesn’t ask us to change who we are. It asks us to be ourselves. If we fit in by changing, that’s not belonging; that’s betraying ourselves, and it’s not sustainable.

Reflecting on this, I traced back 20 years of my life, moving across states, countries, and continents. Everything I did to “integrate” into a community was merely fitting in, losing my true self. People call it integrating, adapting to the culture, language, and food, but often, it means sacrificing our authenticity.

I recall being told what to wear, how to talk, and even being restricted in expressing my needs. Working in a corporate environment, facing these challenges was eye-opening. I was naïve, thinking I was fitting in, always afraid of being left out or unsupported.

I meet many friends complaining about not feeling like they belong, especially in a foreign country. I ask them, what does “not belonging” mean? There is a big silence in the beginning, and then I get that everyone wants to be welcomed, heard, seen, and loved, and be a part of a community where their voice matters. Even after years abroad, some feel unwelcome in their own country or family. So, is it the place, the people, or the culture causing this feeling?

From my experiences, and I’m sure yours too, I’ve learned something profound. We’re uncomfortable with ourselves. We seek validation, love, and care from others without offering the same to ourselves. We’re afraid of being alone, avoiding even the thought of going out for a meal solo.

If we don’t enjoy our own company, how can we expect others to? Why can’t we give ourselves all the things we expect from the community? Where did we lose our true selves? Why didn’t anyone teach us to love ourselves? Why are we scared of loneliness? These questions blow my mind.

I started learning and believing that belonging starts within. Ask yourself, when was the last time you spent distraction-free time with yourself? Checked in on your feelings without external influences?

This self-avoidance creates a void, yet we crave love, connection, and care from the community. Belonging starts from within.

The day you realise you belong to yourself and your source, you won’t try to fit in. You won’t fear your true self.

That realisation hit me five years ago when I moved to a new continent. I decided to be my own community. I didn’t want to conform; I wanted to be me. I explored, made mistakes, and learned.

The “Moscow” principles helped me prioritise my needs. As I worked toward them, I felt more satisfied and confident. The more I embraced my true self, the more complete I felt. I realized I belong to this planet, this universe, and when we belong, we never feel alone.

So, my advice to all the individuals out there: don’t be afraid. Find your true self and live the life you want because you belong to you.


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