Last week on Instagram I told the story of how I met Brene Brown, waiting for my Uber in California.

The first thing that came to mind when I saw her, getting into her Cadillac, just minutes after I had heard her speak on stage, was “remember the awesome road trip we took together last year to Wisconsin, and you read me your book?  Well, that book, and that trip, changed my life.”

In reality, I had listened to her audiobook, and blissfully in the reality of that California moment, I was able to not share “our road trip” memory aloud.  But it did get me thinking a lot about the content of that book, Braving the Wilderness, and how formative it had been.

It’s based on the following Maya Angelou quote / concept / life truth: “You only are free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”

Ka.  Pow.

That hit me right in the gut, then over the head a few times, and I wrestled and wrestled with it for the entire 14-hour drive to Elkhorn WI.  Until it clicked. And when it clicked, I saw the world like I’d never seen it before.

I hear this in my coaching practice regularly: many of us struggle with the feeling of “never fitting in.”  never really feeling like we belong.  Feeling like we belong, then going through a life thing and finding ourselves with far fewer people around than who’d been there before the life thing happened.  We struggle with the feeling that the people – even nearest and dearest to us – don’t fully see us, understand us, appreciate us, truly “get us.”

That feeling is loneliness, and when it is beyond the scope that I would argue is sometimes a natural part of the human condition, it can feel crushing: when we are constantly in the search for approval, validation, love, understanding, value, joy, happiness from someone who is external to us, we continuously live in a state of emotional lack.

It takes some work (more for some than others) to get to the place of being able to find home within yourself, but it is entirely possible.  And when you get to that place – the place where you realize that you are not only enough, exactly as you are, but even more so, it’s a bell you can’t unring.

That’s when you feel free.
That’s when you realize you belong no place.
Every place.
No place at all.
The risk is high – very high – and is not for the faint of heart.
But you are brave.
And the reward is high – very high – and will take you to a state of being that feels like a secret that is joyfully yours to keep.

Lovely, YOU are your one true home, and only you can make you FEEL at home. No amount of external anything – approval, validation, booze, parties, babies, promotions, designer handbags, luxuries, dollars, vacations – can do it for you. That hole you keep trying to fill with more and more and more people and stuff? It’s not going to work, because to feel how you want to feel, you have to DO the work.

If you seek approval, approve of yourself.  If you seek validation, validate yourself.  If you seek attention, pay attention to yourself.  And if you seek love, shower yourself with love.  Surround yourself with love.  BE and embody love.

And then, no matter where you are, or who you are with, or how you feel, you can always come home to yourself. Because home is wherever you are.

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