Connection. We crave it … perhaps now more than ever.

We fear it … perhaps now more than ever.

Those who are BRAVE practice radical friendship to create places of belonging for themselves and others. They understand that without these places we cannot be healthy or whole. They understand that the need for community is so great that, if we cannot find healthy relationships we will settle for unhealthy ones, if we cannot find empowering communities we will accept disempowering ones.

Studies show that people who feel like they belong perform better, become more willing to challenge themselves, and are more resilient. Much of our personal and social angst stems from a sense of alienation – a disconnection from our heritage an traditions, our families and neighbours and the land that once rooted us. This is true at personal as well as community levels.

“Anxiety increases as social bonds weaken. Societies with low levels of social integration produce adults prone to anxiety.”1 While important to many people this may be an even more important factor for girls and women. “The disruption of social ties disproportionately affects women and girls.”2

Dr. Brené Brown asked grade eight students the difference between belonging and fitting in. The answers are so insightful:3

Belonging is being somewhere where you want to be and they want you. Fitting in is being somewhere where you want to be, but they don’t care one way or the other.

Belonging is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else.

If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, I fit in.

In this season of uncertainty and transition what is it you need to feel connected? And, what would being a BRAVE friend took like? It doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be as simple as a phone call to that person you think might be lonely, or pulling a chair up to the table to make room for someone else’s voice. Belonging is not a privilege to be hoarded, it is meant to be passed on.



[1] Higher than divorce, economic or unemployment rates, according to Jean Twenge, Professor of Psycholo­gy, Search Institute research.
[2]  Ichiro Kawachi and Lisa F. Berkham, “Social Ties and mental health,” Journal of Urban Health, vol. 78, number 3, 2001.
[3] Dr. Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness (Random House, 2017), 160.