Just listened to a podcast. (Thank you Kate Ullery) The person was sharing about the difference between your work and your job. He made a comment briefly that stood out to me. That always happens. Someone makes a statement that they seem to just sail by, and I hear something that has a depth worthy of novels in my mind. So that happened, again.
The statement: “I never find myself in a room where I don’t belong. If I am there, it’s because I belong in the room.”
It was a deep sentiment, and then he moved on. What rushed through my mind was all the times I have found myself in a room where I felt I did NOT belong.
In that feeling of “not belonging” I have allowed some crazy toxic thinking, as well as some dysfunctional reactions, and a ton of missed opportunities. I have also, in the name of “feeling like I don’t fit” judged or, in a sense, punished others for their “fit-in-ness.”
When we feel we don’t belong, even knowing how deeply loved and accepted we are by God, we tend to either over-compensate/push ourselves out there, or we shrink ourselves/hide. And when those tactics don’t ease the anxious thoughts, how we view others tends to shift …“Well, they think they are all that.” If we still feel like the foreigner in the space, we might start to view the “others” as being against us, maybe even enemies. Essentially, it’s all posturing cause we aren’t sure we belong in the room.
Think of locations where you DO feel you belong. There’s a certain sense of comfort, peace, confidence, like you can be so you that you don’t even realize you are in the midst of “being you.” Now imagine if you entered every room like that. I’m at Starbuck’s right now. What could that even look like here?
It’s not entering like you “own the place” or “hiding in the corner,” it’s just belonging. It means not rehearsing conversations in your head about how you look and what others are thinking about how you look. It’s about not having to position yourself in the right light, the right angle, so someone will think you are cool.
Now let’s think of this physiologically. Just plain old matter. Where you sit right now is exactly where you belong. There is literally nowhere-else you can be at this very moment. You can move to another seat, or drive down the road, but then you’ll just be in another space where you belong, cause that’s where you will be. If you can’t occupy two spaces at once then you are always where you belong. Yet we spend an enormous amount of mental energy allowing our fears and insecurities to convince us we are not where we belong.
When I’m in a meeting. I belong. I was invited because I bring something to that team, to that space, to that group, and that matters. When I’m in a new scenario or environment. I belong. I’m there to learn, there is something to see and experience.
Feeling like you belong is not easy. It takes practice. It takes healthy self-talk. Or call me, I’ll remind you why you belong. (I’m actually not kidding.) But the reality is to live as if you don’t belong is actually to live a lie. You belong. But now you have to believe.