”Vulnerability is kind of the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.” Brené Brown, 2010 Ted Talk

The more I move into my year-long experiment in whether I can make myself feel like I belong in Australia, the more I’m coming to accept that belonging isn’t about place.

Of course place will always play a role in my sense of belonging and the ways I find meaning because I enjoy being connected to nature. I need to be connected to the wild beauty of nature. But just as a cactus plant grows on a beached wreck, I too can work with place and around it.


What I’ve been learning by writing these short essays and putting myself out there, is that even if I don’t feel like I belong here and I can’t relate to some of the things going on around me I’m creating pockets of belonging. More importantly, I’m coming to appreciate them.Belonging is, after all, finding connection and meaning. Belonging is about being vulnerable and sharing things honestly. I shared Brené Brown’s 2010 Ted Talk recently on The Power of Vulnerability. Brown is a research professor in the US who has spent more than a dozen years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame.

What did she find?
That people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of it. She reminds us that the original definition of courage is ”to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.”What did these wholehearted people with a strong sense of love and belonging have in common?

*  The ”courage to be imperfect”,

*  The ”compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others”, and

*  Authenticity and connection, because they let go of who they thought they were supposed to be and became who they really were.

The wholehearted also ”fully embraced vulnerability” and believed that ”what made them vulnerable, made them beautiful.”


So what does this have to do with pockets of belonging?These little pockets I’ve found, these pockets I’ve made, where I feel a connection, are those where I feel free to be myself. Where I can say what I’m thinking or what I believe and know my words will be taken as valid even though they may be questioned.

When I reach into my pockets of belonging, I find my small online group of writers in the UK and Australia, I find other foreigners or Australians returned from years overseas eager to discuss identity and belonging, I find my family, I find a couple of lovely neighbours, I find my friends spread over several countries, I find my small music community and my small French community.

And I find you — this growing community of people around the world interested in the subject of belonging.

That’s a lot of pockets. How do I sew them all into the same outfit?

By being vulnerable and telling the world I don’t belong.