I am a new Pacific Northwesterner, a new entrepreneur, a new mom, and a needer of words.
Being the newbie for the past three years, I didn’t know how important words would be to me until they weren’t there. I figured the shortage was a sign that I was hitting the tip of the iceberg of the Seattle Freeze, the phenomenon that affects new people moving to Seattle causing difficulty in making new friends. But what I’ve discovered is that my appetite for words, spoken in person, is actually an appetite for connection, an appetite for belonging. An appetite we all have. Seattle might be freezing, but I think Pacific Northwesterners (including me) are more like islands floating in icy waters searching for where they belong.
Because we all know what it feels like to not belong. The feeling you get when you laugh out loud during a cubicle conversation at your dream employer and it’s met with shrieking silence. Or maybe at a business event, when you bring your 7 month son and he tries to eat the indoor plant leaves. Or like at a Mom & Baby group when the Mothers are doing Baby Sign Language and you don’t know the sign for “cracker.”
Belonging as a place, time, or space where you are wanted for being you. It’s agonizing to wait for that sense of belonging to dawn upon you. So why not create it?
The first step to create belonging is getting the foundation set. The foundation of belonging is wholeheartedness. Brené Brown, author and research professor at University of Houston, says there can be no belonging without wholeheartedness.
Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.
You could think about it another way too, where there is a lack of belonging, there is a lack of wholeheartedness. The people in that place, space, or time are not engaging the world from a sense of worthiness. I don’t always engage from a sense of worthiness, but I want to. I want to be wholehearted. A list that has helped me visualize more what that looks like is Brené Brown’s Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto. It’s helped me warm up icy waters and to start building my foundation for belonging.