…They all seem to fit in**
Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.
Belonging, what does it really mean? When I was younger and growing up in Kentucky, I never felt like I fit right. Then, I moved to Los Angeles in 1995. My whole world opened up. Everyone here was so unique you couldn’t help but fit in just being you. I thrived in California. I found my people and my girlfriends and we lived and had a ball. I discovered yoga and Max and found a new home in which I belonged as well.
Then we moved back East in 2001. That sense of belonging never quite returned until recently as a teacher and part of the community at Greenville Yoga. The tagline “You Belong Here” is not an artificial one for me. It is one that means more than you may even realize, personally and beyond.
First, what is belonging? According to researcher and author Brené Brown, we have to choose belonging over fitting in. We have to stay within our integrity and have moments of being real and connected. In her talk at Furman in 2013 she said, “Cool is an emotional straight jacket. There is no room for growth and no room for movement in self-protection.” Two years later I understand this on a cellular level- our imperfections can shine through and can actually help us find a sense of belonging! Being perfect, being cool doesn’t allow us to fit in. It actually stifles connection. This yoga home is a place where you have allowed me to feel safe in my imperfections as I learn and grow. When I walk into this small brick building, I know I belong. I feel the presence of open-hearted students who are bringing their own imperfect selves onto the mat to discover self-acceptance and find moments of connection. We are all in this together.
Last week I received two emails that shared what “You Belong Here” has meant to them:
I just finished a slightly distracted practice, and I think my problem is that yoga isn’t just exercise. It’s a spiritual activity, and I think all spiritual activities need some kind of group. That’s why we have churches and Bible studies, right? You can’t do it alone. You have to make the choice to show up alone, but it’s the group that keeps you on the bandwagon. I didn’t realize how much I depended upon the North Main Yoga community until I was removed from it. It’s apparently deeply connected with my practice. I miss you, and Pete and Victor and Lisa and Nancy and Cary and everyone else I’m undoubtedly forgetting…~from a student who moved to France and has been with us for seven years
The studio has become a sanctuary for me. My skepticism of the phrase “you belong here” has been erased. This was made clear while crying my eyes out in child’s pose while the teacher said that we all deserve to be loved. I just want you to know how much this place has helped (and quite possily saved) my life.~from a new student
So I guess I really don’t want to be like the cool kids who all seem to fit in. I guess I am quite happy being right here. My life has been turned upside-down and all that I did to give the illusion of perfection kept me from feeling connected. Now I see with very different eyes. Embracing my flaws is allowing me to relax, to be more comfortable in my own skin and to connect with others in a new way. Finally, I feel like I belong just as I am. I only hope you feel the same way here as well.
*song lyrics taken from Echosmith “Cool Kids”