When I first came out of the closet, I thought I'd never be interested in or have anything to do with "gay pride".
I wanted my sexuality to be accepted but mostly invisible because even though I was different than pretty much everyone else around me, I wanted desperately to fit in. And gay people sure as hell didn't fit in in the small town I lived and grew up in. Quite the opposite, actually.
For many many years before I came out and for several years after I came out, the desire to fit in was so strong that I was willing to put my authenticity and my deep needs for true acceptance aside. I did this in hopes of damage control for my heart. And it seemed to work for awhile -- kind of.
Fitting in "worked" until the desire to be true to myself was more important than trying to please (at any cost) and be accepted by the people around me.
Who doesn't want to be accepted, really? But how can someone truly accept you when they don't know the true you?
As Brene Brown says, the biggest barrier to true belonging is fitting in.
When we are busy trying to fit in, we are working to conform to the expectations and status quo of those around us so that we won't feel rejected. Unfortunately, when we are working to conform, there is also no room for authenticity. Of course working on letting go of fitting in is an ever-evolving life journey. It is not a destination.
When I was trying to come up with a name for my project, I kept coming back to one word: Belong. Belonging, Belong. To belong means that you are showing up authentically and being accepted for exactly who you are. I wanted this so much for myself and for all the people (my readers and friends) who would be interacting with my project
And so The We Belong Project was born.
We belong. You belong. There is a seat for you at this table.
What are you busy trying to hide so that you can fit in? How would your life look different if you were willing to let that go in honor of authenticity and the true opportunity for belonging?
What is your closet?
It may not be your sexuality. Perhaps that closet has been opened long ago. Or maybe you are a straight ally reader: Is your closet your spiritual beliefs? Your desires, dreams, hopes?
We all have our closets. And we all hold the key to open our own. Of course (again, as Brene Brown states) we share our stories with people who have earned the right to hear them.
Who in your life has earned the right to see the authentic you? And in what areas of your life are you ready to let go of fitting in so that you have an opportunity for true belonging?
The world is full of millions of people. I promise you, your people exist. And you will find them (if you haven't yet already) when you are willing to stand up and fly your flag. Whatever that flag may be.
You Belong. Just as you are. I know this for sure.
Happy Pride Month, my LGBT family and advocates! This month we see many LGBT pride celebrations and parades. It's a wonderful month that reminds us that we have come a long way and that we have so much to be proud of.