You guys, I turned in the manuscript for my book last month. (!!!) For weeks, I spent all day, every day with the words, and then one afternoon I attached them to an email, hit SEND, and it was out of my hands.
“It’s like your own personal week-after-finals now,” my friend Janelle said, and—yes. It did feel a little like the week after exams, except with more sleep and fewer Scantron forms and no arm cramps from writing six essays in a row by hand. Also just like in college, there’s plenty more work coming, but I get a little break in between.
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But all throughout those last weeks, I kept thinking: Are we sure I can do this? Really? Really for sure?
I would think of the names on the spines of the books lined up on my shelves. Do my words really belong next to theirs? REALLY?
Do I really belong here, doing this? Is this really mine to do?
Do I really belong?
It’s one of those questions that sounds like angst, but the answer really matters. If I think I don’t belong, I get scared and small and I don’t show up and I don’t do the hard work that needs to be done.
But if I believe in my own belonging, I can show up. I can be myself. If I believe in my own belonging, I’m safe.
(“Safe” does not mean you get to avoid pain, or loneliness, or hurt feelings. It means that you know you will be okay INSIDE of the pain or the loneliness or the hurt feelings. It means you know that you can walk through those things and still be okay.)
The truth about belonging.
And sure, we all know the truth about belonging, at least in our heads.
You know the truth: That belonging is not the same as fitting in. That you are enough (and what that really means). That you don’t have to measure up. That the cranky voice in your head is not telling you the whole story. The question is never, How dare I? The question is, How could I NOT?
I know all that, you know all that, but what do we do with the suspicion that we’re still not good enough, smart enough, trendy enough, witty enough, well-dressed enough, just plain ENOUGH enough?
What do you do with the fear that you won’t do it perfectly? (Because you won’t. No one does it perfectly.)
How do you remind yourself of the truth? How do you answer the fear that says you don’t belong, won’t belong, can’t find belonging?
3 ways to Practice Believing in Your Own Belonging
Look for other people showing up as their real, true selves.
When I need to remember that you can be your real self and not die, I turn to books where I can FEEL the author on the page, books that could not have been written by anyone other than that writer.
The books can be about anything. The point is that the author showed up and they survived. If they survived, I probably will, too—and I’ll still belong to myself when I do.
It doesn’t have to be books. (But, I mean, why WOULDN’T it be?) Maybe for you it’s music, or movies, or art.
Wherever you see people being their whole selves? Look there and be reminded that showing up actually helps us belong to ourselves and to each other.
Remember that there are actual instructions for showing up.
Yes, sometimes I need someone to tell me how to show up and how to practice belonging. And by “sometimes” I mean always. I need regular reminders.
You know what Brené Brown says about true belonging in Braving the Wilderness? She says that true belonging is when you believe in yourself and belong to yourself so deeply that you can share yourself with the world.
She says that true belonging is when you can find beauty in being part of something bigger, and also find beauty in standing alone. You can see the good in either one. This is what I need to hear.
Find other people asking WHY.
Why does it matter? Why listen for who you really are? Why do the hard work of showing up as yourself? What happens when you do?
(And if you need help listening for who you really are, check out the free Find Yourself mini-course. It was MADE for you.)
The Robcast Ep 189:
You Listening to You
This is where I actually get excited about showing up. I could explore these ideas all day.
That’s where I start. I start by remembering that we’re all the same, really, underneath it all. We all want to belong, we all want to be known, and we all need to practice.
We’re all connected, so we can’t ever NOT belong.
That’s what I really believe.