When I was in Elementary School I had a deep need to create a sense of belonging in my life. I was obese, a seeker of emotional connection and someone who at the time didn’t realise that her need for belonging was coming from a place deep within.
In my need to feel as though I belonged, I adopted a name given to me I.H.O.P.
I finally had a name. I finally had a way to get in, a way to be known other than the girl that always got seconds at lunch and wanted to please the teacher. I felt special, I felt like I was seen, part of something selective.
What I didn’t realise, was that I.H.O.P. was actually a way to tease and taunt me. Even after I had it put on my basketball uniform, I didn’t realise that it was actually bullying. It stood for ‘International House of Pancakes’. It as mocking me due to my size.
I kept that uniform and kept being called it because what I really wanted was to feel like I was part of something. I was desperate to belong.
It is one of the many reasons why I got into my business with doTERRA. I wanted a sense of community outside of mother’s groups. The routine of raising my daughter at times was mind-numbing at times. I had spent the majority of my 20s studying and completing three degrees, traveling the work and career changing twice.
Looking back I wanted to belong to something, and for me, that was swimming in the accolades of others for excelling in my education.
Once I got into doTERRA and realised that I had a group of people both within my team and also outside of it, I truly did feel for the first time as though I had a ‘tribe’.
What I didn’t realise, until my food addiction was so rampant, was that once again I was ‘belonging’ in a destructive way by over-achieving and pining for people’s accolades and worth.
I felt like I.H.O.P. in many ways again.
It was only when I decided to BELONG TO MYSELF that I found my true sense of belong.
True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share you most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness.
~Brene Brown ‘Braving the Wilderness’
When we belong, because we mould into what we think others would want us to become — we are not belonging.
When we belong to ourselves — we have unlocked the secret to true belonging.
I don’t think that this practice of authentic belonging is easy. In a world where everything you see on social media is filtered, edited and projected to reach out in a way that we want it to, finding authenticity is hard. Showing up authentically is also very hard when we lose our sense of self.
The biggest thing which helped me on this journey was stepping away so that I could step in. I had to stop searching for affirmation because it wasn’t helping me stay aligned. And that is TERRIFYING, because when you realise that you don’t fit in with where you have been, and you also don’t know yet what belonging to self is … it can be dark. Really dark. BUT it can also be incredibly freeing, nourishing and joy-filled.
So often many of us would be the ‘I.H.O.P.’ in life because even if it wasn’t great, it was easier then sitting in the space of recalibration.
As we continue to forge ahead with what we feel called to do in life, I think that most important question to ask yourself is ‘do I belong to me?’