Review – Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

BE YOU. BE SEEN. BELONG.

 

Are you truly belonging or are you just fitting in? And what does it really mean to truly belong?

 

As Brene Brown explains in Braving the Wilderness, humans have broken the link that makes us inextricably connected to one another. Throughout the book, she shows us how and why we have broken it, and then how we can fix this.

 

You can never truly belong to anyone or anywhere unless you belong to yourself first. How do we belong to ourselves first? We can start by being honest to ourselves and by standing up for our decisions and beliefs despite our fear of criticism or rejection, even if it means occasionally standing alone. As the book quotes, “keep learning and growing, but commit to not moving from who you are.” In that process, you are in the wilderness, the unknown, a place where you find yourself fighting for who you really are. It is uncomfortable but relieving, and it is where all the magic happens.

 

In contrast, if you don’t bring your raw, authentic self to the world, you will never truly belong. For Brown, she felt like she had never belonged in her family growing up, and she explains that not belonging in our families is “one of the most dangerous hurts” because it has “the power to break our heart, spirit, and our sense of self-worth.” But you will always belong anywhere you show up as yourself and talk about yourself and your work in a real way. We go on with our lives trying to fit in with our families, communities, work, and friends because we are all wired for connection. We crave to be in a community because we need to feel that we belong somewhere. Otherwise, it would be a lonely world if we didn’t belong anywhere.

 

You are only free when you realize you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great. ­–Maya Angelou

 

When we can truly belong somewhere or to someone, that’s when we can start feeling that inextricable connection. This book has allowed me to see where I am at, what my beliefs are, and to accept who I am. I will always be me; people will just have to accept it. If not, those people were never meant to be my people, and that’s okay. The journey will be tough, but I believe it will all be worth it. We must be willing to choose courage over comfort. If you have difficulty accepting who you are and struggle with vulnerability and shame, this book is for you.

 

To all the students who are going into the workforce, I would advise to work in a place where your belief aligns with them, and most importantly, allows you to be who you are. Never try to be somebody you are not just to fit in. Allowing yourself to bring your raw, authentic self will inspire and encourage those around you to do the same.