We belong

Rosanna Machado | September 14, 2021

There have been times in my life where I thought that I had found true belonging – meeting friends at university who shared my hatred of PE, finding work colleagues with a shared work ethic, finding other people who share my love of public transport, but I have never felt such a strong feeling of belonging as I did in 2020, when I spent more time alone than in any other year. It was a joy to have time and space to reflect and to understand what is important to me and apply my values to the choices I make. When people weren’t so readily on tap, I found I could look inside more deeply and connect with myself and 9 times out of 10 I knew exactly what I needed to do without the need for external validation. I have come out of it with a stronger sense of my purpose, values and what I need for my own wellbeing, and these are things that I am less willing to compromise on.

In Brené Brown’s book ‘Braving the Wilderness’ she defines true belonging as “to know that you can navigate the wilderness on your own – to know that you can stay true to your beliefs, trust yourself and survive it – that is true belonging.” This struck a chord with me as by understanding myself better and by being willing to stand up for what I believe in, I have connected with others more strongly. This can be hard to do as we live in a busy pressurised world where sometimes it is easy to go with the consensus, to follow social norms and take what we perceive to be ‘the easy path’. However, if we do want to gain awareness and live life to the full, it may require putting yourself out there, carving your own path and showing vulnerabilities. That can sound daunting and uncomfortable but the path to thriving has to be the one where we are true to ourselves and with that the connection and community will follow.