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  • Writer's pictureAnnika Giles

What is fitting in and belonging all about?

The quote from Oscar Wilde “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken” is self-explanatory but in reality how many of us can truly be ourselves, continuously and honestly, at work and private life.

Is it even realistic?

Quite often we tend to behave in a way which gives us acceptance from others, makes us a popular, likeable person within a group. This behavior enables us to fit in, whether it is at work, or at private life. In search of acceptance, likeability, it can be that most of our actions are dictated by another person’s approval.

We are compromising on who we are, what we like and how we appear as a form of fitting in. We could be taking several different roles, based on where we need to fit in.

But it is not all bad, or is it?

Brene Brown, who is the expert on this subject, describes fitting in as turning yourself into a “human pretzel” which twists and changes yourself to fit certain situation and people. The more we do this, the more we distance ourselves of our true selves.

Fitting in can make us feel unfilled, guilty and generally unhappy. It can create of feeling of being fake.

But what is the alternative?

It is the feeling of belonging. Belonging is a way of being where you don’t need anyone or anything else to give you a sense of belonging. It does not matter whether others choose to accept you. Belonging feels natural. You can be unapologetically you in situations and around people. But belonging can be challenging as it requires a certain level of vulnerability.

The difference between fitting in and belonging is so often explored in therapy/counselling. How aware you are of the reasons why you behave the way you do, say things you do not really mean, follow up a certain role as a parent, partner, daughter/son and friend, hang around with friends/colleagues you really do not like, stay in a job which causes unhappiness…. just to name a few.

If you would like to explore your sense of belonging or how sense of belonging could be encouraged at workplaces, contact me on


Brene Brown (2017): Braving the Wilderness

Brene Brown (2015): Daring Greatly

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