This week, I really have no idea where this is going. Please bear with me as I Google things as I'm typing this post.
Is there a good way to transition to this week's topic? (Hint: probably.) Do I know what that way is? (No.) This week's topic is acceptance and belonging.
I guess the reason why I'm having a hard time writing this post is because it isn't something that I've really put much thought into over the course of my consciousness. Sure, here and there I will think about it, and think about how I fit in to my environment, but I wouldn't say it's something that comes up often. I'm hoping to learn a little about it on the way, so come join me on this one-post-journey! Nothing to lose, really. Except brain cells. Stop it.
Acceptance and the sense of belonging, I think, are about as essential to *human* life as, say, food or water. We have this innate desire to belong, and when we don't feel that way, we are pained in one way or another (for the most part). We as a species, along with many other species that grace this planet, seek interpersonal (interanimal?) connections. It's why we find ourselves seeking relationships with other people. Even the most introverted of introverts will at times seek the company of others. Probably. I mean, I think. It's just a claim, OK?
When I was thinking about how to frame these concepts in a personal matter, I at first wanted to say that I never thought deeply about these subjects because I believe myself to be quite adaptable, to the point where I would semi-confidently say I could feel accepted or that I belonged anywhere I choose. But, at this point in this blog post, I'm inclined to change that statement (only three paragraphs in, too!). Instead, it really has nothing to do with me or anything that I do. To say that I've never really thought deeply of acceptance or belonging means that I have been extremely lucky with the communities that have opened their arms to me. Why do I say that? Well, because I think I would only think deeply about the matters if I was apart from them. To put it another way, you wouldn't necessarily think about belonging unless you felt you didn't belong.
(Still with me? Impressive. Not sure if I'm still with myself. Let's keep going!)
But now that I'm thinking about it, my biggest hurdle right now is convincing you, dear reader, that you do belong somewhere, literally all the time. A couple weeks back, while talking about rebuke, I mentioned the concept of "drinking to fit in" being foreign to me. (I'm also starting to get a general idea of where Taylor is getting these topics from, but I digress.) Now, three weeks later, it's still foreign to me, but I think I've been able to draw some more insight on the matter.
The reason I don't understand it, and it is just one of many examples I could use, is because it doesn't make sense to me that someone would seek acceptance in an environment where they are, quite frankly, not themselves. If you are an apple, you don't fit in with a basket of grapefruits just because you are dressed up as one. That's not how this works. Your shell, or costume as you would have it, is but a facade over the underlying fruit—your real self and your real values.
I think one of the most poignant quotes I've heard (Googled) is this:
...and in one fell swoop, Ms. Brown has successfully paraphrased everything I'm trying to get at. The truth in the matter is that true acceptance, or belonging, as she puts it, comes only when we are our true selves (authentic, imperfect).
To expand a little further, I can see why we fall to cloaking ourselves with other identities in order to fit in. In some ways, the existence of belonging also necessitates the existence of rejection, a la the concept of "there is no concept of good unless evil exists as well". And rejection is undesirable, scary, painful, etc. We don't want it, understandably so. So we seek the quickest way to acceptance. For some, that becomes any number of adverse or harmful things. But I guess if you're reading this and happen to be trying to avoid rejection, just know that if you play the little switcharoo, rejection doesn't exist without acceptance, either. You feeling rejected proves (at least to me) that you are accepted elsewhere, just as you are. Does that help? I hope that helped. If it made things worse, then forget everything you just read. What have I done.
Don't get me wrong—if your true, uninhibited self is inebriated or whatnot, go for it, dude. I'm just saying don't force yourself if that isn't you. What's it worth in the end, anyway? You're left to pretend who you are in a crowd of people who don't have a clue about who you really are.
I feel like I'm getting really redundant now, so I'll leave you with a little message you may have heard before.
We just want to create a safe space. Come as you are.
// Brian "What Did I Just Read" Zhang