Why Standing Alone Is The Way To Build Community

Alright guys, I finallyyyy finished another book. During lockdown I was reading like crazy (and loving it) but since things have opened up, my reading game has definitely been slacking. I started Brené Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone (months ago) and am so happy to have finished it! This is such an inspiring, touching, and relatable book and I am so happy to now have the insight and awareness that this book has given me. This book was published in 2017 and talks about community and political division, which was relevant then and still extremely (maybe even more) relevant today. From this book, I learned a lot about my quest for belonging. We all want to feel like we belong and are part of a community. At times, this desire will push us to do things we otherwise would not do if we were to be true to ourselves. Brown speaks about the importance of standing alone and also coming together and being there for those around us. This book had a plethora of thought provoking quotes and insights that I am so excited to share with all of you!

Description: “A timely and important book that challenges everything we think we know about cultivating true belonging in our communities, organizations, and culture.”

In the book Brown investigates Maya Angelou’s quote “you are only free when you belong no place- you belong every place- no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”

Like Brown, when I first heard this quote I was not sure how I felt about it. It did not make sense to me and the parts that did seemed to be cold and lonely. I don’t to be a recluse on my own who doesn’t belong anywhere I thought. Upon further investigating, I realized that Angelou said something very profound. First off, a lot of us don’t belong, we fit in. We force ourselves to fit into the community we were born into because we fear what would happen if we didn’t. We have a scarce mindset that leads us to believe that if we do not fit in to the community we were born into, we will not fit in anywhere. If you feel as if you do not belong in the community you were brought into it. then that means it is not your community! You won’t have to try so hard to fit in when you are somewhere you belong. True belonging comes from not having to fit in with anyone but yourself. This is what Brown refers to as the wilderness. This wilderness is scary because you are alone. This aloneness does not have to be lonely. Being alone means that you are free, you have no ties and this allows you to be no one and everyone at the same time. As Brown so eloquently put it:

True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness.

True belonging is not passive. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are.

You will always belong anywhere you show up as yourself and talk about yourself and your work in a real way.

If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, I fit in.

Being ourselves means sometimes having to find the courage to stand alone, totally alone.

Oftentimes, when try to fit in we end up losing ourselves in the process. We try to squeeze our personalities so tight into a space that they do not naturally fit and we end up being a washed-up, unfulfilled version of ourselves. Belonging to yourself and letting yourself be you is the most beautiful thing you can do for yourself. It will feel like pain but it will totally set you free. I have found that I do not belong to myself. I belong to those who judge me, they own me because I let their opinions stand before my own. It is so beautiful to be free and live authentically.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in growing and experiencing a more full and authentic life. We need connection and realness, something that only comes from true belonging.

Let’s grow together.

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