Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone – what an empowering title that is, right? When someone on Instagram recommended this book to me, I knew it would be right up my alley. In fact, this whole year, my mission has to be more authentically me. After a fallout with a friend last year over a difference of opinion, I’ve decided to stop letting others make me feel like my values aren’t worthy. None of us are going to please everyone and by trying to do so, we aren’t being the truest version of ourselves. I absolutely loved Brene Brown’s message in this book, as it reiterates the need for self-confidence in our lives. I’m guilty of trying to fit in all too often in my life and molding my views to other’s reduce conflict. It always leaves me feeling dirty and weak inside. I know I need to reinforce my backbone, even when my opinions cause discomfort in this world.
True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.’ Social scientist Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives – experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarisation. With her trademark mix of research, storytelling and honesty, Brown will again change the cultural conversation while mapping out a clear path to true belonging.
Brown argues that what we’re experiencing today is a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other. She writes, ‘True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in both being a part of something, and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.’ Brown offers us the clarity and courage we need to find our way back to ourselves and to each other. And that path cuts right through the wilderness. Brown writes, ‘The wilderness is an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.’
Ultimately, authenticity and vulnerability are the glue that holds humans together. Brene’s message here, among others, is the world is now more lonely than ever due to the separation between people. We aren’t getting to the nitty-gritty parts of life with our friends and family, we aren’t vulnerable or drawing close to others. Not only that, we don’t know how to do so. I appreciated Brene’s ability to bring these things to light, to understand these are universal truths humans need to understand to be better.
A few minor complaints about this book, at times I felt the writing was a bit redundant with several things being repeated numerous times. This made the writing feel a bit disjointed for me. At times, some of the info felt a little fluffy as well. I think my biggest struggle with it, was that we are able to enlighten ourselves with this information, but it doesn’t mean everyone else will be eager to improve themselves. I felt like this was written in a way where by following the instruction we can practically erase most conflict in our lives just by being ourselves. We simply have to be the bigger person. This is a good thought but it’s not the most realistic idea.
I also was disappointed I didn’t really have any big “aha!” moments while listening to this book. Since I’ve been having epiphanies on the topics in this book over the past two years, there wasn’t a lot of new information here for me. Nonetheless, I’m grateful to know this is something we all have the opportunity to learn and experience. It’s always comforting to know, even when we feel alone, we aren’t ever truly alone in the world.
My favorite part of this book was Viola Davis’s story of redemption and her own experiences with standing alone in her life. I knew I admired her spirit before reading this book, but it’s only been reinforced since. What a strong, courageous woman she is!
“True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. We want true belonging, but it takes tremendous courage to knowingly walk into hard moments.”
Overall, this book features valuable information and I think everyone can benefit from in one way or another. Any opportunity to grow into a better person is an opportunity that must be taken. I’m glad I decided to listen to this book, if only for the confidence boost it provided, even if Brene Brown mispronounced “Voldemort”…twice. You’re forgiven, Brene. 😉
Rating: 3 stars
Purchase on Amazon.
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4 Comments Add yours
I’m on something of a Brene Brown kick right now. I just read her book “The Gifts of Imperfection”, listened to “The Power of Vulnerability” and watched her Netflix special. All three things repeated a lot of information, but it’s valuable enough that I’m hoping it sinnks in. I might check this out sometime.
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I wondered if her other books would feature a lot of the same things again. I haven’t watched her Netflix show yet, but I definitely want to give it a try soon. I like the things she’s teaching!