I may have missed my calling just a bit, I am fascinated in my older age by the behavior and thinking among humans. I find myself studying, doing hours and hours of research on the subject. I came across this idea of belonging versus fitting in. They are not the same thing. Belonging and connection are at the core of every person alive. Fitting in is an external or internal adjustment on someone’s part to belong artificially.
Teenagers master this skill because it is inherited in our DNA. Because of our need to belong, the inability to be authentic and courageous leaves us no choice but to fit in or conform. Fitting in is about changing my authentic self, in my looks, desires, attitudes etc to conform into the desired crowd or relationship. We have done it so long that honestly people have mistaken this for their real self!
My friend Toby told the basic needs of all humans
1. To be fully known
2. To be fully loved
3. To be fully connected (I added this one)
All of the driving forces within us cause us to seek these things through our human strengths. Brene Brown Ph.D. says,” Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued: when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derived sustenance and strength from the relationship.” You see to be connected in this sense requires you to be authentic and vulnerable. It’s definitely a learned process. If you think about your first date that you have with your potential mate, the fear and anxiety of fitting in and finding approval. Now think of the authenticity of the relationship after you are married for 20 years!
Daniel Goleman wrote a book called, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships. Daniel proves through neuroscience that we are hardwired for connection and that our relationships shape our biology as well as our experiences. He writes,”Even our most routine encounters act as regulators in the brain priming our emotions, some desirable, others not. The more strongly connected we are with someone emotionally the greater the mutual force.”
One of the biggest problems is our culture. We are driven to succeed and are identified by what we have. It’s sad to say but most people in our country have an identity crisis. Our self-worth is affected by our net worth, and we base our worthiness upon our productivity. Meaning we feel better about ourselves in a worth sense based upon how far we got down our to-do-list for the day! Another huge problem in our society is we have now handed out busyness, and exhaustion as badges of honor! We are way too busy to even know what we are about anymore. Our children are way too busy, we are creating the same world for them that we hate about our own!
If connecting requires me to be authentic then it’s quite the opposite for ‘fitting in’. The idea of fitting in requires me to begin a comparison process to determine my level of fitting in, and which crowd or friends I will have. Unfortunately comparison is all about conformity and competition. If we are not careful we will find ourselves only feeling adequate or enough when we are doing better than. Better than is a myth that the carnal minds plays on you to get you to connect without authenticity. Technology has connected people but not so much in a heart to heart fashion, but sort of in a plastic way!
I remember last year I was in a funk. I just couldn’t shake it. My birthday rolled around and to see all of the posts on my Facebook really gave me a charge. My feelings of worth and value shot up. Well this year the same thing happened. I think in those two days I received over 350 well wishes and emails. While I was basking in the ‘love’, I heard my self say, “how would you be feeling if you would have only received 5 well wishes instead of 350?” So then I realized the people I have true connections with are enough to sustain me. I have to learn to enough without adding the ____________ at the end of the sentence.
Answer this question, “I will feel better about myself and my life when ________________________(happens, or gets done….ie: lose weight, make more money, etc etc….) You have to fill in the blank and be honest to yourself. The challenge that I am working on is to be enough already. And learn to accept and love the person God has already made me to be at my core!