Anastasia Sukhanov
a Few Words
Published in
3 min readMay 6, 2019

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Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

“The opposite of belonging is fitting in”,- says Brene Brown in her Netflix lecture. Fitting in is the opposite of belonging?! But for the last 10 years my CV said that “fitting in” is one of my greatest skills! And it is. I’ve always observed, listened, adjusted to everything and everyone. I thought it gave me a competitive edge in the world full of diversity, that it was synonymous with tolerance.

But I repeat to myself — “Fitting in is the opposite of belonging” and suddenly it explains so much.

When I’m frustrated that others don’t accept me as I am — have I ever really showed them the real me?

When I’m upset that I’m not being heard — am I saying what I think or am I adapting my truth to their vision?

When I’m desperate to be understood — do I even understand myself?

I haven’t, I’m not, I don’t.

Fitting in is a great skill, a lifesaving one sometimes. But mostly we aren’t using it to infiltrate terrorist groups and bring justice to the world — we’re hiding behind it and the allure of heroism that it gives us.

When we force ourselves to “fit in” we take pride in it, thinking that by giving up some part of ourselves we’re making life easier for the others. This is ego talk, aka bullshit. In reality that’s the easy choice, the one I made many times, giving myself golden stars for it.

When we make a choice to fit in, we usually think along the following lines:

I’m above it / I’m taking the high road

I’m only sacrificing a tiny part of myself for the greater benefit of everyone

They will see how hard I try and shower me with appreciation

No you’re not. No it’s not tiny. No they won’t.

Fitting in is not the high road, it’s the road of denying your true self, of losing it in the myriad of adjustments you have to keep making. The high road, the hard choice — is to be yourself and let the world deal with it. You can only be accepted if you show what it is that needs to be seen, because no — people won’t guess, it’s simply not their job. It’s yours.

So, here’s a revolutionary thought (for me anyway): stop trying so heroically to adjust yourself, throw away the stack of golden stars. Peel off all the layers you’ve been putting on, ditch the masks. Be yourself, be awkward, own it. That’s the real courage, that’s what gets you much more than golden stars — belonging.

This story is published in a Few Words, Medium’s brand new publication which only accepts stories that have less than 500 words.

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