There’s a world of difference between fitting in and belonging. Fitting in is trying to squeeze into a pair of skinny jeans. There’s nothing wrong with skinny jeans. But sometimes you just want to relax and let it all hang out. Fitting in forces you to change your shape. It can cut off the circulation from your authentic life blood. It’s the same with conformity. You have to become someone you aren’t in order to find a place in a group of family, or whatever it is. That’s no way to live. Its stifling, suffocating, soul destroying.
Belonging, on the other hand, is liberating. Its like wearing your pajamas all day, or as we say in Australia hanging in your “tracky dacks.” They’re just so comfortable, and if you wear them long enough they feel like part of you. That’s how authenticity works. You decide who you are, and wear it often enough, it becomes you.
We’re hardwired for belonging. We tend to become like the people and environment we surround ourselves with. We desperately want to belong. Its so easy for this drive to belong to manifest as conformity. We spend so much energy trying to fit in, when we should aim for belonging. Or as radical body love guru, Golda Poretsky puts it, “fitting out”: She says,
I think fitting in is highly overrated. I’d rather just fit out. Fitting out means being who you are, even when people insist that you have to change. Fitting out means taking up space, not apologizing for yourself, and not agreeing with those who seek to label you with stereotypes.
The thing is you have to belong in your own body and life before you can belong anywhere else, or at least be on the path of belonging. It’s likely something that we don’t attain in any full way. Learn to love yourself, and it automatically invites others to love you.
Once you come to the powerful realization that you are alive to stand out, not fit in, everything changes. Fitting in seems boring, like lowering the bar on your potential, stifling your genius. Don’t fit in. Be extraordinary in a way that only you can be. As Finnish author Sebastyne Young says, “extraordinary people rarely fit in.”
Belonging is important, because where else will we have our sights raised to our potential and have the privilege of joining others in raising the love vibrations in the world around us. How else will we realize we are part of a great cosmic process, that we’re not alone, that our choices affect the whole, and where else will we practice being human if we don’t belong anywhere. Belonging is essential. We just don’t need to sacrifice authenticity in order to belong.
Belonging is unity in diversity. Fitting in is unity by coercion.
To belong is to be long on commitment and short on conformity.
To belong is to be long on acceptance and short on judgment.
To belong is to be long on active participation and short on entitlement.
To belong is to be long on free thought and short on group think.
To belong is to be long on listening and short on telling.
To belong is to be long on personal responsibility and short on blame.
To belong is to be long on honesty and short on pretense.