I just finished reading a book called "Braving The Wilderness" by Brene Brown. You should read it if you've ever struggled with loneliness like I have at times.
At the very end of the book, though, it presents a stark dichotomy between fitting in and belonging. And it occurs to me that, either because of fear, trauma, hurt, whatever, many of us - myself certainly included - look to fit in when what we really lack is belonging.
Almost every single dumb, damaging or destructive thing I've done was out of an attempt to fit in. From second grade up through my last job, every single social mistake was borne of this intense desire. Why did I care so much? Why did I need this? Well, that's what I've been working on in sessions now.
But that's the past. I see now that I thrive when I belong, like most people. Maybe it's a flaw of mine, but I can't truly excel when I lack belonging. I've found belonging at Saint Ann's, I've found it at Terrace, I've found it with Hellgate, I've always had it with New York City. At times I've felt it lacking with friends, and even with family. This is not to say they haven't loved and cared about me - I know you're reading this, dad - but that I have felt out of place at times, perhaps because I'm not as religious as some relatives, or simply because I had a different set of life experiences up in New York. My wife is much closer to her family than I am to mine, which makes me a little sad, but I'm 31, not 91, and I have decades left in which to work on that.
The point I'm making, as I digress, is that the reason this job is going well isn't just that I'm talented or whatever, it's that my supervisors want me not to fit a mold but to, within reason, find my way to excel. Any future career path that leads to success will have to be based on this idea, and it's really good to know.
Belonging is key. Fitting in is death. That doesn't mean be weird for its own sake if it's not who you are. I sometimes do that when panicked, especially when I was a teenager, just being goofy for its own sake and not because I really wanted to be. "If I can't fit in," I said to myself, "I'll just be so weird I can't be ignored." This led to oversize blazers and fake chrome teeth and things like that. It was fun at the time, but it was all from fear.
To me, the key to life as an adult, married man with a settled and growing career is to find that authenticity, to eschew sarcasm and snark, and to find an environment and set of circumstances where that is fully embraced rather than just tolerated.
Would that everyone should be so lucky as to figure this out. And it's not easy, to find true belonging and forget about fitting in, pleasing people and living up to external pressure. But it's worth it. And I think I may have found the key to the future.
Here's hoping we all can.