... & belonging are 2 very different things.
Actually, they're quite the opposite of each other.
If you happen to be in an environment where you need to fit it, you don't belong there. If you feel "oh my God, I'm a perfect fit here!" you do not fit, you belong. You have been made to feel at home.
Now please, don't take me wrong, of course we need to respect the people surrounding us and be attentive to the situation and the values and culture of that place. But, see, if you feel at home, meaning you feel welcome, this would not be an issue, because all of the above, respect and attention, along with "being yourself" and feeling welcome, are two-way streets. If you are in the right place, your value is appreciated and you do not have to customize your ways to be accepted, freakish as you are (However, there are obviously limits to everything, like if you happen to, I don't know... enjoy setting things on fire, maybe you should consider therapy, or Hollywood).
Most of my life, I have tried to fit in and never quite managed to do so appropriately without shame and the pain of executing parts of myself, holding my breath, narrowing my Being, accepting the crumbs, being pushed to the side, told to keep quiet, told to say the right things, or to say no thing. In other words, I've been asked to stop being myself.
But then, I've wanted to be part of something, something greater than myself, something worthwhile, something exciting, creative, world changing! Damn it! I just wanted to have a circle of friends, who accepted me the way I was, the way I am, while supporting me on the journey of self-discovery and development. Belonging, also means, you may grow and change and cultivate yourself together and without self-limiting boundaries, with respect and integrity. But sometimes, we just need to realize that we are better appreciated elsewhere and have the courage and integrity to seek our own path.
There is no shaming, there is no faking it 'til you make it. No. We're in this together, and your worth, the way you are, is not part of the conversation. That is yours, that is, as Brené Brown says, non-negotiable.
Having to fit in, means there's something wrong with the way you are and you have to fix it before having a chance at a seat at the table. You have to prove yourself, your worthiness.
Fitting in, is a never ending story. Navigating the will and mood of others, in order to make them happy (and ultimately attain what what you desire) has no shore. Don't even go there. Take another ship, sail your own Ocean. It is immense, worthy and exciting. Those who wish to be part of your journey will find you, and you will find them, when you know who you are and you stand in your own power, that will be the force that guides you.
Love // Alex