Your Life Is Your Lab

Yesterday, I co-facilitated a conversation on belonging. The idea was born out of hearing myself reply to a friends message on June 1, 2021—“Happy Pride month!” 

Here’s what I said…

“I spend most of my life trying to forget that I’m gay… that I’m different.”

Almost as soon as the words rolled off my tongue, I knew I had some work to do around belonging… belonging to myself. 

Some might call this self-acceptance, but to me it goes deeper than that.

It’s about more than accepting oneself. Belonging, at the core, is about Loving ourselves, especially the part that doesn’t want to be different… the part that wants desperately to Fit In. 

The problem with “fitting in,” as Brené Brown says, is that it’s the antithesis of belonging. 

And yet… there’s this Longing for Belonging… to feel a part of. And… there’s also delusion that such connection exists “out there somewhere.”

The truth, as I’m coming to Know it, is that true belonging begins right inside of me… I belong to myself. Or, at least, it is my intention to cultivate, with the help of the beautiful souls that show up and join me on the journey… and, of course, my inner wisdom. 

True Belonging Is Vulnerable

As I shared my reason for participating in this conversation on belonging, the vulnerability was tough. 

It didn’t take long for the desire to be seen and accepted to show up. While I’d love to tell you that I could see and accept the part of me that needed reassurance in my inherent worth as a human, the truth? I struggled a bit… which, I suppose, is why this topic has made its way to me.

Moving (acting) in spite of fear of imperfection, shame… discomfort… is how we grow into True Belonging. 

We Learn From Our Vulnerabilities, Not By Staying Safe

By engaging in that conversation… a brand new topic for me… I learned—

  • Tolerance for our humanness opens the doorway to belonging 
  • Nothing is ever wasted 
  • The core message in any topic (or satisfaction in any job) is born out of our own struggles, fears, and hopes
  • Living your (leadership) message is how you teach it… let your life be your lab, and then share in that journey. 

The conversation wasn’t perfect… there are lots of opportunities for improving, for sure! There’s a part of me that wishes that weren’t true… that I got it “perfect” from the start.


Vulnerability and Courage Are Best Understood Through Practice

I’ve got to say… I’m thankful I took the risk when my co-facilitator asked — about a week before— to co-create this conversation with her group of women leaders. 

It was clunky… I felt clunky inside too.

Fear crept in… as it does sometimes.

Showing Up Fully Is How You Strengthen 

And yet, I showed up… shared myself, offered what I’ve learned, and soaked up the wisdom that comes from experiences like this.

And that’s what we Can do. We can show up for the opportunities that inspire us, share from our core, expose our deepest longings, and trust that it was enough. 

So… if you’re tasked with improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in your team or company, know that it really begins within you.

The more you show up, expose your vulnerabilities, and seek to better understand the Real challenge of being imperfectly human, and the strong pull to fit in, the more equipped you will be to serve as a guide to those on your team to do the same.

If you found this to be helpful, please share it.

Here’s to your greatness, 

Misti Burmeister 

Misti Burmeister has been facilitating communication that results in trust and connection for nearly 20 years, increasing engagement and productivity across generations. Make sure your communication is coming across the way you intend, visit