I've been "In the Brave"
I opened an all-time favorite book of mine, Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown, and this card pictured above was tucked inside the front cover. I had no clue it was there but thank goodness it was. It reads:
“Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don't belong. 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.”
In all honesty, this belonging stuff has been kicking my a** lately. Does it ever kick your butt too? Mostly it's been showing up in relation to my work and this question that doesn't really get me anywhere - where do I most fit?
I don't particularly know why, but once in a blue moon something inside me gets churned up like sand at the edge of a shore and I find doubt a not-so-welcome companion. It feels murky and in the absence of clarity, I find myself swimming in doubt. This last round was a doozy.
This doubt can get triggered by things outside of me - hearing about someone's most recent wild success, seeing a woman I admire and her Instagram account climb toward 1M followers, hearing a keynote speaker and feeling my voice start to crack a little.
This doubt can get triggered by things inside of me - reflecting on a client experience, wondering if I am showing up fully, pondering my place in this mystical cosmic dance called life, thinking about my parents and still wanting to make them proud.
Yes, I am imperfectly human and don't always feel secure in my lane or on my path.
I question if I am doing enough, making enough of an impact, or reaching enough people. Then the questions flood in:
Should I want millions of followers?
Should I be working harder on my sales funnel thingy?
Should I be writing a book or spending all my time growing my following so I look more appealing to publishers?
Should I share more about my life but more specifically my coffee order, my cute fall sweater, or my daily gratitude practice? OK - I am being a little snarky now.
It brings out the defenses and warps your sense of self. And if I am being really honest with myself, it only ever points to some harsh assumption I've not only made but full-on invested in. My personal pet gremlin seems to have a one-track mind and loves to whisper in my ear, "You're too small to make a difference. Get bigger."
I know what my gremlin is referring to. She is referring to choosing the more digestible, shinier path. Say the more convenient thing. Do the work more people want to buy. Share the redundant memes that are hashtag-worthy. Write the "how-to" articles and shell out pricey advice to anyone who knocks on your door.
"Fit in," she says.
After reading this quote in the photo I went to my journal and the following poured from my pen. Thank goodness my inner wise self has my back.
“Standing for [the] honesty of people's True experiences, the very fabric of what they contribute to their life and this planet is not shiny, editable, or hashtag-worthy. I worry that by choosing the not shiny stuff I won't rise but if I don't choose this I will inevitably fail. True belonging doesn’t play out on a world stage. It plays out within and I can only help you belong to yourself by fully belonging to myself.”
There it is - I worry that by choosing the not shiny stuff I won't rise but if I don't choose this I will inevitably fail.
What if I stopped looking outside myself for proof that I've made it or not? What if I stopped looking to my perception of success and start listening to the subtlety of contentment and joy already present? What if I stopped believing I don't fit in and also stopped pretending I want to fit in?
I finished re-reading Braving the Wilderness a few days later and found this comforting distinction in the final chapter. When the author asked a group of 8th graders for their definitions of belonging vs. fitting in, they shared some potent wisdom. This one was my favorite: "If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, I fit in."
Belonging to myself and respecting that sense of belonging TO myself lands me in trust, faith, contentment, and joy. It also lands me in a more honest and comforting acknowledgment of where I am in my own process.
The truth is, I don't know if I will amass a large following, I don't know that I will appear lucrative to a publishing house, I don't know that I will sell out stadium-sized events, I don't know how many people will ever know my deep desire for their own personal well-being and joy, and I don't know what "enough" really is.
But I do know that I love to hold my clients' hands.
I do know that I love to hear your stories, told in direct confidence because we are actually standing side-by-side.
I do know that I love the intimacy required for deep work.
I do know that I love the tenderness of the spaces I keep and invite others into.
I do know that I am not built for faceless seas but instead I am built for small communities created through depth and connection.
And I do know that my little corner of this work matters because it's meaningful to me.
This is me being "In the Brave."