Thursday, November 12, 2015

You Will Find Your Place

There is a difference between "fitting in" and "belonging," as I have learned from Brené Brown. "Fitting in" is conforming oneself to wedge into surroundings; "belonging" is being oneself yet being accepted in surroundings.
Pamela Druckerman, an American in Paris, has written before about the differences in American and French outlook. When a country doesn't comprehend children's songs like "If You're Happy and You Know It," that says a lot. 

In "How to Find Your Place in the World After Graduation," Druckerman describes her careful choice of topic for a commencement speech, since France doesn't do "Reach for the stars!" 
I based my talk on a common French expression that’s optimistic, but not grandiose: Vous allez trouver votre place. You will find your place. I’ve always liked this idea that, somewhere in the world, there’s a gap shaped just like you. Once you find it, you’ll slide right in.
How to find that place?

Druckerman presents a number of points, but I don't agree with them all. The ones I like: 

1) Give yourself space and time to think. 
You need to be blank, and even a little bit bored, for your brain to feed you ideas. The poet Wendell Berry wrote that in solitude, “one’s inner voices become audible.”
2) First tries usually suck. Don't expect magic immediately.

3) Everything you hear and get exposed to is material. Keep track of "ah-ha!" thoughts. 

4) If being occasionally obsessive creates good work, that's cool.

I had thought that when Druckerman started about finding one's place, she would mean in the social sphere. But no; she means finding one's place in the wold, even when alone. 


Daniel Saunders said...

The stuff about British graduation ceremonies in the article is very true. (Actually I didn't even graduate in person for either of my degrees, partly due to illness, partly due to Oxford insisting on holding graduations on Saturdays.)

I struggle with this. I want to belong, but find it hard to know how. Sometimes I try painfully to force myself to fit it - doubtless a product of a childhood spent being told to force myself to fit in with the other kids - but it never lasts long. On the rare occasions I find somewhere I belong, I tend to get worried of rejection and run away. Which is silly and counter-productive, but I'm not sure how to change it.

Princess Lea said...

Americans make a big fuss over graduations, but I voluntarily didn't attend mine.

I heartily recommend Brene Brown ("I Thought It Was Just Me") in tackling fear of rejection. I'm trying now to throw myself wholeheartedly into situations, being aware of the risk, but taking it anyway.