My Adventures With Ambition: Healing My Need to Belong

I’ve been playing around with my fears of biggification over the past month or two and I’ve come to some conclusions.

And I’m not afraid anymore.

Here’s what I learned: I was really afraid of myself.

I was afraid I would get latched onto the idea of being “biggified” and start doing inauthentic things to try to be liked, to make up for my childhood. Which sucked.

As a kid, I never felt like I belonged; other kids never seemed to want to get to know me. I was the dorky smart weird girl wearing boys clothes two sizes too big (hand-me-downs). I was the kid of atheist hippies in a small mostly-Christian logger town.

It was just not a good fit.

Since biggification boils down mostly to “more well known”, I was afraid that my desperate unneed to belong would come surging up and make me do really dumb things.

Like try to be some kind of perfect working-automaton who gets everything on her to-do list done, is nice to everyone, has no authentic messiness and is clean and shiny all the time, goes to bed at a “respectable” hour like 10 and wakes up early to do yoga or <shudder> go jogging.

But I didn’t realize all this a few weeks ago. I just wanted to get through this stuff. I didn’t even know what the fear was. I was just like “OK, I’m going to try this on”.

It turns out I was being run by an internal belief that goes like this:

Nobody will like me for my real self, so to biggify I would have to be somebody else.

And my mind, being a logical creature (it its own way), when I really pushed it to get OK with biggifying, what did it do? It started trying really hard to be that “somebody else”! (My mind is sweet in its obedience but not very bright.)

And my resistance, the staying up late and getting no sleep “self-sabotage” was my body’s way of putting on the breaks and screaming I don’t wanna be not-myself!

Thank God for resistance.

The last few weeks my “getting things done” craze of ambition to catapult myself through my fears of biggification has been matched step by step with my digging-in-its-heels resistance, and the net result was an entirely exhausted Emma.

But I finally got it. It was me all along.

I’m not afraid of being “biggified”. I’m afraid of who I will turn myself into to get there – and even worse, who I would get stuck trying to be if I got a taste of being successful at it.

See, if I believe that I have to be someone else to be liked, then the more I am liked, the more that “somebody else” I have to be — the more careful, the more complete the subterfuge I have to keep up with. And if I have this desperate unmet need that hasn’t been healed running me, I could turn into a total I-want-people-to-like-me addict.

And my body wanted nothing to do with that kind of stress. So it rebelled.

And I’m really glad it did.

If not for my body saying “NO!”, I wouldn’t have asked myself: What is wrong with this picture? Why am I trying so hard? What happened to my whole “intrinsic motivation” and “plenty of time to nap” thing? Why do I suddenly have 20 things on my to-do list that I feel this panicky need to complete? Why am I running myself ragged to get this project done? What is running me?

So after a few weeks of pushing myself hard, a week of feeling super tired and unfocused, and two days of trying to remember who I was anyway and taking some time off from the frackin’ to-do list, I finally got it. (Well, and about a half dozen of those miraculously helpful serindipitously healing situations that come up to point you on your way when you really commit to working through something.)

So. Now that I see the belief, I can do something about it. Phew.

So here’s the healing part.

First, I feel really solid now that no matter who likes me or doesn’t like me, nothing matters more to me in this life than being myself. I could never relax or be happy being anybody else. So that option – I’m throwing it out the window. Fame, money – any of that stuff pales in comparison to the joy of walking around in the world being happy in my skin.

I’m really happy to come back to this realization, because I’ve lived with this fear for a long time: if I had the chance to be really liked as somebody who was not quite me, would I take it? Would I sell myself out to belong? It’s such a relief to know that — no. I don’t want to be bigger if that is the price. I don’t care that much about it.

I don’t think that is the price, but I’m happy to know that I don’t have to be afraid of that desperate, insecure part of me anymore. I can welcome her back into myself (my definition of healing). As long as I was afraid of her, there was a split between me and her, that little girl who wanted so much to be included and didn’t know how to make that happen.

Now I get to tell her that I love her exactly as she is. That she doesn’t need to change to be loved. She is OK and want her in my life. And that’s really what she’s needed to hear all along.

And then I get to grieve. Looking back I can see that there just wasn’t any way the inclusion I wanted was going to happen. Who I was, how I was raised, in that town, in that school – the chances of having an easy time making friends were sketchy to nil. It’s sad, and…it’s not my fault. I couldn’t have earned any more love than I got back then…and all my striving to figure it out didn’t change the fact that it hurt to be so lonely day after day, and that is just true.

And accepting that, I can also see that in the present day, I don’t want to spend my life-energy trying to figure out how to get the Internet to love me, or how to be someone who more people will like. I don’t need to try to be liked anymore. That stuff happened back then; now, I have found people I fit with. I don’t really need the whole world to love me as long as my friends do.

I just want to be me, and do what I love, to write and share and connect and discuss and figure out ways to offer people what they need that I have to give. And what comes of it comes of it. And I know good will come of it because I am good and life is good and my world no longer consists of an elementary school playground.

So does that mean I don’t want to “biggify”? Hell no! It’s fun. =)

Now I get to work on what biggification actually is.

Which is something like this: stepping into and owning your own power. Becoming OK with it. Letting go of what doesn’t serve you anymore. Owning your own legitimacy. Being OK when some people don’t like you because you are reaching the people you care about. Finding a focal point to catalyze your intention into productive action (i.e. choose somewhere to start and get on with it). Learn what you need to learn, do what you need to do, play hard, have fun, and never forget that it’s all just a game.

Note: The word “biggification”, which I’ve been bantying around lately, was invented by the illustrious Havi. I like it, for it’s non-icky connotations. Mad props to her for inventing a word that is so awesomely more friendly than “marketing” or “promotion”. Go read her awesome blog about biggification, destuckification, and how to work through unhelpful patterns in non-icky ways.


  1. Aww, man! I think I’ve got something in my eye, it’s gone all watery. 😉

    Breakthroughs are awesome,
    So are you, Emma, my friend,
    Are you in my head?

  2. =)

  3. Lynn Crymble says:

    Yay Emma! I found your blog through Havi and I’m so glad I did.

    I am constantly running from the fears I have of not fitting in. I’ve always felt like the little puppy jumping at someone’s feet, tongue sticking out just hoping that they’ll like me and want to pick me up.

    You put it so nicely:
    “As long as I was afraid of her, there was a split between me and her, that little girl who wanted so much to be included and didn’t know how to make that happen.”

    The split is causing major stuckification and I will do all I can to fix that rupture.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. @Lynn

    Yeah, it’s been a major theme for me too. From the first day of kindergarten it seems like.

    I’ve felt more like a lone wolf – searching, seeking for some kind of pack that I would feel I belonged with.

    I remember actually in high school, we had to write this pretend college admissions essay about ourselves, in English class. I wrote mine on the whole ‘I am a lone wolf’ theme. I was just trying to be honest, I thought that was the point.

    My teacher told me that nobody wants a “lone wolf”, that I might as well say I didn’t want to get into college at all. So I wrote a new one using some dumb analogy of a chocolate chip cookie. He gave it an A. Sigh.

    And I hated college, so go figure.

    Have you ever done the Enneagram? I tested to an 8 with a 7 wing, “The Maverick”. I like that. =)

  5. I just looked up an Enneagram test – said my main type is 4 and I’m an “omni” “Fours” often feel like misplaced children and they long for a real sense of family.
    Ah ha!
    Thanks for pointing it out. Now I just have to figure out how to comfort that misplaced child.

  6. WackyPantsLeila says:


    I’ve just discovered your website and been dipping in and out of it. Am starting this big journey like so many of us trying to figure out how to develop work which inspires me and indeed touches others whilst dealing with my monsters/demons/stuckness since I need so much time to be still, grounded, recover, revive as well as be in the world of work.

    I love your blogs and wanted to thank you for all that you are sharing. Brave, smart, sassy woman that you are and goodness I never knew the internet could be quite this enlightening. I’m a huge huge fan of Havi Brooks too. Amazing stuff! Anyway I felt to write after this blog in which you acknowledged your human icky vulnerable stuff. Beautiful to hear some of your journey and amazing to see how far we can all travel with kindness to self, moments of yummy magic and time.

    Many thanks for the inspiration and for being you!