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Longing to Belong

brené brown comparison exhaustion gender great books that change you self-acceptance May 07, 2022
Woman on Mountain by StockSnap of Pixabay
In The Gifts of Imperfection, Researcher-Storyteller Brené Brown writes about belonging vs fitting in. Belonging she says, “is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us.” She then goes on to say “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
This need we have, to belong, requires us to show up and be seen and heard just as we are. And to both accept ourselves and offer ourselves to others for acceptance.
This is in sharp contrast to our more normal pattern as humans, seeking to “fit in.” Think of high school when you may have did or said things that didn’t feel true to you in order to seek approval from others. To be one of the group.
When I re-read these passages recently, it struck me how at odds the idea of belonging is with the culture of medicine. From even before we entered medical school, the goal was to “fit in” with what your and others’ ideas of what it meant to be a doctor. Reserved. Level-headed. Infallibly knowledgeable. Technically excellent. Professionally dressed and coiffed.
What did it mean for you to be able to fit in? And where is this still showing up?
Years of trying to fit in can create deep-seated denial of ourselves, a lack of self-acceptance. I don’t imagine that this is true for all, or certainly to the same extent for all doctors, but how far outside of “the group” are you? As a white, heterosexual cis-woman, I spent my energy trying to fit in with the mostly white, affluent male doctors who were my teachers, and I struggled. I didn’t share hobbies with them, wasn’t in their same situation of life, and didn’t grow up believing that I would be respected as an authority. Fitting in was a stretch.
And what happens after years of this? Certainly not self-acceptance.
Because when you are trying to fit in, trying to impress, you will generally push yourself harder and harder, which generally means denying your emotions and needs more and more. And yes, I had achievements, but I didn’t feel authentic to myself because I was trying to hide my messy parts. And because I feared not fitting in, I didn’t feel comfortable being myself. Which means I was not accepting myself, and therefore I was not belonging. To myself, or really anywhere.
It's a brave thing to show up and be seen, and to seek places where you belong. But seeking belonging, learning to accept yourself, your needs, learning to feel your emotions, it’s all part of our work as humans.
If this is something that you struggle with, and you too would like to cultivate belonging, you’ll want to check out my upcoming events page here.

Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

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