About This Episode

In order to “fit in,” you usually have to become like the people you’re trying to fit in with. Everyone will have expectations and standards for you to meet, and if you strive to fit in, you’ll need to meet them. The process of trying to fit in always causes stress.

Belonging, on the other hand, is a different matter. You get to find the spaces and circles in life where you belong. That is, you get to decide who you are, celebrate who you are, and choose to do life with people who respect you for who you are.

How do you make that shift? That’s what this episode of Walk Humble is all about.

Episode Notes

Today, I want to talk about why you should stop trying to fit in and why you should create a life in which you belong instead.

Brené Brown talks about the difference between these two concepts.

Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.

Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

But what I’ve noticed in my two and a half decades of adulthood is that I still vacillate between those two approaches to the world around me.

And here’s the thing…

Trying to fit in will always create stress in your life.

Creating a life in which you truly belong will always lead you to freedom.

Sometimes, I must admit, I still try to fit in. I mean, who wants to NOT fit in?

What does that look like?

  • We offer fake expertise in whatever topic is popular among a particular crowd – sports, fashion, politics, etc.
  • We plug into a certain church and we try to dress like the rest, cover up our bad habits, adopt certain theological positions, and try to look holy.
  • We feel like we’re part of a particular political voting bloc, so we adopt all (or most) of the values and talking points of that group.
  • We try to get people to associate us with certain well-known leaders and thinkers. We namedrop.
  • We try to distance ourselves from other personalities with disclaimers about how we certainly don’t agree with everything they say.

Belonging, on the other hand, looks very different.

First of all, belonging requires that you begin with knowing who you are.

And second of all (and this is the really tough part), it’s accepting and even celebrating YOU for who you are.

By the way, this assumes you’re not a complete jerk. In other words, accepting who you are doesn’t mean overlooking all of your own faults, defects, and negative tendencies.

Growing and moving forward is a big part of continuing to become the YOU that you and others can gladly accept and celebrate.

When you know who you really are.

And then third, it means that while you will try to love everybody, you will listen to the voices of those who respect you for who you are.

We’re all supposed to love all of our neighbors, but we get to choose to hang out with people who will accept and affirm us without requiring us to conform to their image of who we ought to be.

This is the part where you get to establish proper boundaries with people. You can’t always just kick everybody out of your life, but you can say, “I love you and I’ll help you any way I can but I can’t allow you to set the agenda for who I am becoming.”

It might sound trite to say that “God loves you and has a wonderful purpose for your life,” but it’s actually very true and very important to remember because we live in world where everyone else will have their own purpose for your life if you let them.

So take your cues from the God who is no respecter of persons and who has made all of us acceptable and welcome in his family through Jesus.

And by the way, figuring out who you are, accepting and celebrating who you are, and seeking out relationships with people who accept and affirm you for who you are is way easier when you accept and affirm others for who they are.

I don’t know what station in life you’re at as you listen to this. Maybe you’re in college, or you work in a corporate environment, or you live in a nursing home. No matter how old or experienced you are, I think this is a lesson you’ll have to learn over and over again for the rest of your life.

Trying to fit in will always lead to stress, but being you and “belonging to yourself first” (as Brené puts it) will lead you toward peace and freedom.


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