Fitting in vs. belonging

By Kanika Frings


This must be the mother-ship of the array of themes that keep me engaged and confronted throughout my life.

It is only now dawning on me that this theme has been following me on my path like a shadow, going wherever i go, often unnoticed.

Who knows where exactly it comes from, though some plausible theories have come through.

Such as growing up in different places, moving in and out of various communes in early life in which belonging felt like an unconscious necessity in terms of survival and/or later on, wanting to blend in in a Christian school whilst me and my parents were part of the frowned upon “red people” and then the sense of coming home, away from home, in a boarding school with “my kind of people”.

These and some more circumstances may well have shaped my relationship with belonging and community, but it could also just be one of those big challenges everyone has to grapple with at some point when interested in ones inner workings, such as self-love and self-worth perhaps….


I do believe that belonging is an innate survival instinct, just like self-preservation and procreating is.

For some reason I just happen to have put a big part of my focus on this particular one, more or less unknowingly, to the extend that I have created my home, my work and my path around community.

A love hate relationship at times, but never the less one that seems deeply important to me, despite the fact that I have a large introvert side in me that oftentimes craves and dreams of solitary caves and silent monasteries on far away mountains…


I remember vividly getting a set of Osho-Tarot cards for my birthday, some time in my teenage years. I picked “the Outsider” and was profoundly moved by the little boy standing in front of a seemingly closed gate, alone, away, forgotten (that was my perception). I also recall reading that the boy is so focused on the closed gate that he does not notice that the lock is open and that he could open the gate and walk through it at any time.

I can still feel that coin dropping, when I understood that the card meant to say that being an outsider is created in our own reality. That we have the capacity and choice to step back “in”, to move from isolation to connection. And even in understanding this truth I somehow knew that it was not so simple and that I had yet a lot to learn.

My heart went out to the boy, as it does to anyone I see “on the outside”. Misfits, loners, hermits, rejects. Something in me pains greatly for them.


Looking at it now with some more self-reflection I can see my own fear of isolation and abandonment projected outward onto them.

Though I have never really been one of them (having on some level become an expert at a.) adapting, blending in, adjusting, becoming acceptable, unobtrusive and so “part of”, and b.) diligently cultivating self-sufficiency and an air of independence that has become deceiving both to myself and others), something about their assumed pain resonates in me.


Brené Brown said “belonging is not about fitting-in but about a sense of belonging to oneself” and how right she is. But to make your way from that conditioned, deeply rooted reality, to the place in which you belong by coming home to yourself, is a risky path paved with trials and errors as we venture inward to the places that keep us separate and disconnected.


I know that some of the loneliest moments I have experienced were sitting in company of friends or family and feeling removed. As if I was not part, could not really touch or be touched by them.

I also know that this subject will continue to be a big learning for me in this life: bridging the gap, by coming home to myself. Again and again and again until the way home becomes increasingly clearer and more natural and seizes to be frightening and accompanied with the fear of loss of connection.


The truth is that the contrary happens. Somehow we have come to believe that by fitting in we become a part of this group or that. Are acceptable and lovable to these people or those. But only when we can really feel and embody the sense of belonging in ourselves, of not abandoning ourselves for another, do we start belonging to this humanity and this existence, unconditionally.


DIMA has and continues to be a great teacher to me in this regard. As it changes, whilst I change with it, my relationship to community and belonging changes. Becomes more obvious, more defined, more tangible.

As I let go more and more of the idea of community in the context of a space, I open myself up more and more to a sense of community that is greater then a home that holds it and where belonging happens naturally by staying true to oneself and being received and welcomed in that.


with Love,