Bad Self-Portraits

Recently I was listening to a Brene’ Brown podcast, and something she said caught my attention:

“Fitting in is when we want to be a part of others… Belonging is when others want us to be a part of them.”

I love the symmetry in that and began to wonder, which is better, to fit in, or belong?

I couldn’t decide.

Fitting in ultimately is about meaning. When the pieces of a puzzle fit, we see the big picture. When we fit in, life makes sense.

Belonging is different. Belonging concerns value. When others value us, our self-worth increases. Belonging reminds me of “Norm” on the sitcom Cheers. Whenever Norm walked into the bar, everyone yelled Norm! He belonged! The Cheers theme song repeated the lyric, “You want to go where everyone knows your name!”

Joy derives from feelings of fitting in and belonging, of things making sense, and of being valued.

For some people, that’s easy. Others fail to find it.

What explains the difference?

Regular readers know that much of my inspiration comes from song lyrics. In the song “Bad Self-Portraits,” Rachel Price, front person for the band “Lake Street Dive,” sings: “I’m taking bad self-portraits, of a lonely woman.”

That’s a clue!

We want to fit in. We like to go where everyone knows our name. But too often, we’re taking bad self-portraits.

Perhaps that’s because we don’t think we measure up?

Dylan was booed when he performed in his high-school talent show. Given a similar experience, I probably would have stopped playing guitar. Dylan went on to record over fifty albums and win a Nobel Prize!

I suspect Dylan didn’t take many bad self-portraits!

Putting oneself out there takes courage, but it usually pays off.

I have a friend who couldn’t care less about whether or not she fits in. As a result, she fits in everywhere!

Then there’s me. I really don’t like to dance because I always feel self-conscious.

Most of us hold back out of fear of what others might think. Perhaps we should channel a little Dylan.

A big step towards belonging and fitting in is to throw away the camera.

And stop taking bad self-portraits.


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One Reply to “Bad Self-Portraits”

  1. At the beginning of the pandemic, I turned off my “self-view” on Zoom calls. Suddenly the Zoom call took on a much more natural feel. In person, I am not watching myself make a presentation. Using video conferencing with the self-view hidden, I was less self conscious and better able to return the the mental image of the 24 year-old version of me instead of the bald/grey reality. Is that “belonging to the moment” or self-delusion?


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