Peers are my nemesis, slightly awkward being a single 30 something in London… I know. Who doesn’t have a few social faux pas in their closet right?! Or awkward social tendencies?! Socially awkward tendencies can potentially be hilarious, however they are more likely to be hilariously painful. Along with that goes the pain of not being able to take our place at the table (metaphorically and physically). Approaching an environment, pulling up a pew, embracing the community around the table can be difficult if we view the world in stereotypes, if we try to fit ourselves into that mould and if we, ultimately, view ourselves as different.
We long to belong, we long to be loved and known, to have friends and companions around us who know us fully, and we feel fully alive with them. Yet, why doesn’t my life look like this? Why can’t I reach this idillic image I have? One problem is trying to fit in, as opposed to belonging.
Brene Brown puts it like this,
“Fitting in is assessing situations and groups of people, then twisting yourself into a human pretzel in order to get them to let you hang out with them. Belonging is something else entirely—it’s showing up and letting yourself be seen and known as you really are”
I belong as I am, I fit in as who I think I am.
So why do I do this? Why do I permanently get pulled between who I am and who I think I am?
Self – acceptance. Self – acceptance is huge. Quite often our self-acceptance comes from our families and if we haven’t had a secure, fulfilling place within our families our self acceptance may be low — this isn’t an excuse to family bash, or blame shift, but to recognise that where we may have taken our place in our families, or were put, can affect where we then take our place within our peer groups.
Learning to take our place at our peer group table is an ongoing process of self-acceptance.
Brene Brown says “Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance”.
With low self-acceptance often comes rejection and with rejection comes a lack of objectivity. The idea of a shared humanity and shared experiences disappear and we are the only person in the room, the city, the world, with these issues. Yet, if we managed to stay at the table long enough and engage we’d see that everyone is in the same position.
Two phrases which help me with this are:
Keep your gaze
Eye contact and keeping focus on being worthy of love and belonging goes a long with sel-acceptance. Learn to keep your gaze on people, make eye contact.
Stay a little bit longer
Every time you want to run from the table because you feel out of place or feel overwhelmed, wait, wait and wait some more. Then run.