By Carlii Lyon
Remember the popular group at school?
There are only two possible memories you can have – you were either in the group or not. I was, to some extent, in the ‘in’ crowd, however, I never really felt it was where I belonged. I went on to leave school early and for much of my adult life, the same dynamic would play out time and time again.
Even throughout my career as an international celebrity publicist, part of the job was to be in the ‘in’ crowd, connect with the trendsetters and literally make the news. I was invited to parties, runway shows, and concerts. I traveled all over the world and had the opportunity to meet so many incredible individuals. I loved every moment of my role, however, I have to be honest and say once again, much of the time I questioned if I belonged.
Was there something wrong with me or was I trying to fit into the wrong place? I now realise that rather than trying to belong, the key is to become clear about what belongs in your life, to begin with.
This whole idea of belonging came up for me only the other day after I spent a precious hour of my life mindlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed. As I sat there unashamedly peering into the lives of friends, colleagues and complete strangers, I discovered a wonderful change that had taken place within me. It revealed itself after I saw a picture of a friend out at a bar with a group of girlfriends.
Let me put it into context, I don’t drink alcohol (no, not at all), so the idea of going to a bar is extremely unappealing to me. I am also quite introverted so I generally choose a one-on-one interaction over a group setting any day of the week and twice on Sunday. In my 20s I would have questioned myself and made myself feel bad about the fact I was ‘different’; that I was ‘anti-social’ or ‘old before my time’. In my 30s I celebrate who I am and relish in the one-on-one time I have with my nearest and dearest friends. Yes, I want to spend most of my time barefoot in nature. And no there is nothing wrong with going to bed at 9.30pm.
In her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown puts it like this: “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”.
The truth is, there is no such thing as the ‘in’ crowd, furthermore, anyone who believes they are in the ‘in’ crowd is actually in a prison of their own making. For in order to be part of a ‘group’ you generally have to think the same, do the same and even look the same. It’s why I have always tried my best not to wear what is ‘on trend’ or partake in needing to ‘be seen’ in all the right places.
There is no point trying to belong somewhere if you need to be someone else in order to fit in. There is true freedom and lightness when rather than seeking to belong, you actively choose what belongs in your life. In the wise words of George Harrison: “My life belongs to me, my love belongs to those who can see it”.
I now realise that when I am true to myself, I attract the people and opportunities that are right for me. I no longer feel the need to belong anywhere or to anyone because I belong to myself. The people in my life love me just the way I am, just as I love them the way they are. There is someone and something for everyone in this world, there is no need to pretend to be anything other than your self.
So, I say don’t try to belong, just be, and where you find yourself there you are.