Belonging vs. Fitting In

Updated: Oct 18, 2018

This year I have been reading one book per month. After years of reading nothing but text books, this felt extremely liberating! To be able to choose my own books and actually enjoy them (not that I didn’t enjoy reading about qualitative vs quantitative research methods)!

Daring Greatly

My August book was “Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown. This book is great for so many reasons, not least of which is the way that Brené shows us the subtle distinctions between everyday words. Distinctions that are so small that they can be easily glossed over, but that can mean the world of difference to someone!

Shame vs. Guilt

The differentiation made between ‘shame’ and ‘guilt’ was, quite literally, shocking to me. In my vocabulary both shame and guilt were negative and were interchangeable. However, according to Brené, the use of shame is equivalent to saying that the person is bad, whereas guilt is saying that the person did a bad thing.

Shame is internalised.

Belonging vs. Fitting In

Another distinction that, quite literally, jumped out and smacked me in the face, was between ‘belonging’ and ‘fitting in’.

I was nearly in tears when I read the definitions that 13- and 14-year olds came up with for these words.

‘Fitting in’ was defined as; “being accepted for being like everyone else”, whereas belonging was defined as “being accepted for you.” In other words, “I get to be me if I belong. I have to be like you to fit in.”

This absolutely blew my mind. So simple, but suddenly so many things shifted into place and made more sense to me.

Something that I have spent quite a large proportion of my own therapy sessions exploring is the idea that I am perceived as quiet and shy. Many people who know me well, know that this isn’t true. But while I am being “quiet” and “shy”, I am actually trying to figure out how to be around you. I am figuring out how to fit in.

Being Unapologetically Me

Over the past few months, even years, I have been purposefully working on my sense of self. From the inside out, not from the outside in. Of course, I have been doing all the usual things such as going to the gym and eating healthily.

But I’ve also been indulging myself with delicious foods, taking actual time off on my days off, and taking holidays. I’ve been learning to say ‘no’ to things that I don’t want to do, and I’ve been saying yes to doing things that might seem ‘uncool’ to others.

I have been learning to be unapologetically me.

And I would encourage all of you to try to do the same.

As always, if you would like to book an initial counselling session with me, please email me at

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