Belonging vs Fitting in

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Brene Brown in an interview with Krista Tippett shared part of her research with a group of middle schoolers around the difference between belonging and fitting in.

And they just had these incredibly simple and profound answers: “Fitting in is when you want to be a part of something. Belonging is when others want you.” They just rattled one-off after the other, and I was so taken aback, and then a young girl raised her hand and said, “You know, miss, it’s really hard not to fit in or belong at school, but not belonging at home is the worst.” And when she said that, probably half the kids either burst into tears or just put their heads down, unable to speak.

Other kids gave examples: “My parents were really athletic and popular. I’m not athletic. I’m not popular. I don’t fit in with my family. I don’t belong there”

I thought about all the things I say to my own son, the words that pepper each day. Said of course with love and his best interests in mind but is that what he hears?

Are my oft-repeated suggestions on how to live, saying “you don’t fit in” because you don’t do things my way?

The controller in me, the worrier in me, always on.

Telling him what to do seems helpful but not if it stifles and constrains his uniqueness, his input, his skills, his way of doing things, shutting that part of him down to fit in (with me and my ways). Oh Lord… please help ME change.

I  had this visual of hands open like a book and within those hands, holding others gently (my son especially). To be curious and open about what I don’t know or understand. The book visual is relevant – I’m the one with much to learn …

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