When I first opened this book, I thought I knew what I was walking into. I thought I was cracking open an exposé on what it means to truly fit in when you can only really fit in with yourself. I thought this lesson would come à la her infamous storytelling abilities and Texan humor.
I wasn't totally wrong.
While yes, she does peel back what it means to truly belong to yourself, her research revealed something deeper. Something I was happy to learn about and am still unsure how to navigate.
What I think she's pointing to is this forgotten truth ---> True belonging is to remember our humanity, no matter what. Now, to be clear, this is my summary and my words. Maybe in reading the book you'll come to your own conclusion. This is mine.
Here's why this struck me so hard - not just because she's right or because it's an inconvenient truth but because I can FEEL it. Can't you?
Last month I hosted my third Awaken Your Practice retreat, and there was this potent moment for me during the money beliefs circle. This is a teaching where, in vulnerable fashion, we dig into our money beliefs and give them a voice. At the end a student looked at me and said, "I just want to know that I matter."
Oofta, as my mom would say. I just want to know that I matter. Does this hit you in the heart as it did to me? In that moment every fiber in my soul wanted to run over to her, take her pain, hug her, and remind her that "to matter" wasn't up to anyone but her.
But is this totally true?
When I launched the People First Project and hosted 40 coaching conversations in 60 days, I knew some of what I would find. As unique as we want to be, we are really the same.
We all want to feel like we're good enough and like we're doing enough.
We all want to feel like we can trust that everything will turn out OK.
We all want to feel good and spend as little time wheeling and dealing in our stories as possible.
We all want to contribute in some way.
And...we all want to matter.
We want to know that our life isn't a shell and that our existence is important. I am not talking about legacy here. I mean we simply want to know that our breath and our heartbeat are not for their mere function but something more meaningful. We want to know that others SEE us, HEAR us, and HONOR us.
We want someone "out there" to tell us our life isn't being lived in vain.
Is this what it means to truly belong? And if so, who decides this? Who decides who does and doesn't matter? And is that even remotely possible, to assume some people are inherently more valuable or worthy than others?
NO. Sorry. But nope.
During the People First Project, the thing that surprised me the most was that more than feeling like we matter, what almost every single participant asked me for was PERMISSION to belong as they are. Imagine that, asking someone else for permission that can't be granted because it's self-evident.
I can't give you something you already have.
You belong because you are human.
Yet, this doesn't feel like enough, does it? You want more. You want to to know that your effort, giving, compassion, experiences, trauma, transitions, and all-around messiness in life GET you someplace you aren't already. As if we could cash in our hardships for something shinier.
It's like there needs to be some finish line so that we feel better about going through what we go through. We call it "to matter," we call it "belonging," and we call it "worthiness." But what if these things are a given, and everything else you embark on in your life is for the pure experience of it? Would that be enough for you?
Some will say, "Yes! What a relief."
Some will say, "Absolutely not. I need my life to measure up to something."
For those of you looking for your life to "add up" and to be handed a ticket to the "belonging" table, you're playing a zero-sum game. Because our humanity is the great equalizer.
Your humanity is that part of you which you can't put down or take off. The part of you that goes everywhere with you no matter how hard you try to give it a day off. No one is required to lose so you can win. Which means you aren't required to win to belong or to matter. You also aren't required to lose so someone else can win. Zero Sum. You already belong.