Australians around the nation come together on Australia Day to celebrate all that is great about Australia and being Australian.
It is the one day in the year that all Australians are united by a common sense of 'belonging' to something greater than themselves.
At the very core of our being 'belonging' is something that is intrinsic to our emotional wellbeing and personal equilibrium.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs speaks to self-esteem and respect – and respect is very much about being in a place where you can be yourself.
The problem - as Dr Brene Brown describes in her book 'The Gifts of Imperfection' is the way we go about finding our unique place of belonging in terms of trying to fit or blend into places we feel we 'should' belong in order to maintain some ideal that we have created of how we 'should' appear to the outside world.
“..the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. 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.”
In a culture that still values fitting in over the somewhat more uncomfortable concept of being true to ourselves it is no wonder that more and more people are feeling a sense of deepening disconnect and a lack of belonging within the very communities they inhabit.
Most of us are so busy maintaining who we feel we 'should' be we have little time to dwell on who we actually are. The problem with this is (apart from being ultimately unsustainable as a way of life) is that it does not lead us to an accurate understanding of where we belong.
It is not until we start to undo a lifetime of conditioning and lift the burden of carrying the expectations of others that we start to uncover our own authentic selves which in turn leads us to a far more accurate view of where our true place of belonging is.
When we base our choices on our own truth, it is inevitable that we find the meaningful connections we have been seeking, together with the sense of fulfillment that comes with belonging to something that holds deep personal meaning.
Because achieving a sense of belonging is based on being authentic with ourselves and others, it is not a one time, one size fits all activity. What one person needs in order to feel like they belong to something that matters is completely unique to their personal truth.
Like life itself 'belonging' is a life-long journey based on committing to staying vulnerable and living your authenticity each moment of the day.