I don’t feel like I am connecting with any of you. I feel so different. I don’t feel like I can be myself here.
You may have said these words yourself. That Wednesday night, Ann was saying them. But I had voiced these words in my own head too. Cried them during lonely days.
On pages 231-233 of the book, Brown gives the answer. It’s the desire to belong. When Brown interviewed eighth graders about what the difference between belonging and fitting in are, here’s the answers she got:
Belonging is being somewhere where you want to be, and they want you. Fitting in is being somewhere where you really want to be, but they don’t care one way or the other.
Belonging is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else.
I get to be me if I belong. I have to be like you to fit in.
Somewhere where you are wanted for being you – that is belonging. Brown goes on to explain that what makes belonging so hard is that most of us don’t have a sense of it. And we can’t give what we don’t have. But what Brown doesn’t say is how we can create belonging.
Subscribe to the TOGETHER® Blog (below) to find out the first Element of Belonging in the coming weeks’ posts.