Friends are nice to have, aren’t they? You can do all kinds of fun things together, and you can be there for each other when things aren’t so fun.
Well … so I’m told.
In the course of my 33 years on this planet, I’ve only had 3 close friends: 1 in elementary school, 1 in high school, + 1 former boyfriend. That’s it.
You may think I’m exaggerating. That’s OK. I wish I was.
As a social, community-based species, it’s natural to want to find others you get along with (inside or outside of your biological family) and spend more time with them.
We did it to simply survive being killed tens of thousands of years ago, but now we need it to survive mentally + emotionally (though some people are still threatened by death on a near-daily basis, which is horrifyingly embarrassing for the human species, but that’s another post altogether).
For me, friends have become a mythical achievement, like the perfectly fried egg or having absolutely zero acne. I’ve seen so many others do it, but I’m pretty sure they’re aliens.
Maybe it’s because I fall towards the introvert side of the social spectrum.
Maybe it’s because I’m an INFJ that, “keeps a small circle of friends and prefers to work alone. Although an INFJ may have hundreds of acquaintances, if they call you a ‘friend,’ you can be sure that they mean it for life.”
Maybe it’s because I’m an Enneagram 5 whose, “challenge is to understand that they can pursue whatever questions or problems spark their imaginations and maintain relationships, take proper care of themselves, and do all of the things that are the hallmarks of a healthy life.”
I’ve got all 3 against me, but that’s not the only thing.
I also used to hate myself. With a passion. Sometimes I still do.
During the most formative years in my life (when I was supposed to be developing self-worth), I had no one my age that I could reach out to + talk about the big stuff. Or hang out for an afternoon. Or study for a test.
Looking back on it, at times, I feel like I missed out on something vital.
Then I tried to make up for it in high school + failed miserably.
Instead of finding people that I belonged with – those that accepted me for who I am, quirks + all – I developed the ability to be everything to everyone (there’s my Gemini side coming out).
What I thought was belonging – because I was useful to these mostly-obnoxious people – was actually just fitting in.
When it comes to your schedule, if I hear you say you’ll “fit it in,” then I’ll tell you not to do it. If it needs to be “fit in,” then it’s not important + doesn’t belong – if it did, then you would have designated space for it already.
The same goes for social relationships, whether it be an acquaintance, a friend, or a lover. Fitting in implies forcing a square peg into a round hole – aka a major waste of time + effort. Belonging has a sense of ease + laughter to it – laughing because it’s ridiculous how hard you’ll try to fit in when you don’t need to.
Maybe you feel like you don’t belong anywhere.
Maybe you feel like fitting in is the best you can hope for.
Maybe you feel like your Soul will be ripped to shreds if anyone gets too close to you.
In Brene Brown’s latest book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone (which is a quick + tear-inducingly-powerful read), she puts the emotional smack down on this.
Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong here. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.
Reading about how she struggled with belonging her entire life shocked me. This gal? This woman, who writes some of the most socially + emotionally powerful books of our age?
All the more proof that having a sense of belonging – the awareness that you are allowed + welcomed to exist in your most authentic form – is desired by each of us, but it’s not a mythical achievement.
It’s a process. A journey with no set destination. It requires self-curiosity + a whole lotta damn vulnerability.
Some days, I’ve got that in spades. Other days, I don’t leave my apartment or talk to anyone else. It’s about balance.
The point of all this is: belong to yourself, fit in for no one. First and foremost, feeling at home – feeling that you belong – within your own body + your own heart is where we begin. Again and again and again, each day, each moment.
Whatever you seek, seek it within yourself first, darling.