‘Braving The Wilderness’ by Brene Brown

You are only free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all.  The price is high. The reward is great

Maya Angelou

The fundamental issue that this book addresses for me is that one of how we navigate the push/pull of our innate human desire for ‘belonging’ and our need to hold fast to or own integrity & authenticity.  How do we manage to be  a part of something, feel connected and have a sense of belonging without betraying ourselves in the process ?


Brene Brown is a research professor at the university of Houston USA and has spent the last 16+ years studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy.  Among her work you’ll find her books: Rising Strong, Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection.  Her famous TED talk on vulnerability is one of the five most watched, with over 30 million views…I highly recommend it so……

You can watch that TED talk HERE


That was back in 2011 !

Shortly after watching this TED Talk I read Daring Greatly & Rising Strong and I also took part in some of her very early on line workshops.  As I recall it, at the time, we were living in temporary accommodation while extensive work was being done on our own home and at the same time I suffered a herniated disc ( I still think that was a result of all the stress ! ) and what better time to immerse myself in the subjects of courage and vulnerability than when we have taken the decision to have our home half knocked down and rebuilt while my husband left his job of 25 years.  Sometimes its only in hindsight that we are able to appreciate the brave decisions we’ve taken.


Anyway, I digress … Braving the Wilderness is the most recent book of hers that I have read.  The sub title ‘The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone’, gives a very accurate summary of the subject matter of this book.


At the beginning of the book, Brene talks about her own experience of not ‘fitting in’ as she grew up, and describes it as one of the most painful threads of her life…

Feeling like I never truly belonged anywhere was my greatest pain, a personal suffering that threaded through most of my pre-adult life.


She describes Maya Angelou as her ‘most steadfast counsellor’ who’s work contained ‘such power  and beauty’ and that her words ‘taught me, pushed me and healed me’.   Brene describes how she struggled with what Maya Angelou said in her TV interview with Bill Moyers in 1973 …

You are only free when you realise you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all.  The price is high. The reward is great.

Maya Angelou


This book is the result of Brene’s work as she dug deep into understanding our human need for belonging, what it means to truly belong, the difference between belonging and ‘fitting in’ and how freeing it is when we are able to truly belong without betraying ourselves.

I have very much enjoyed Brene’s work over the years.  I feel like I’ve gained a lot from reading her work and listening to her talks.  She is an incredible orator and great story teller. I often reference quotes from her work in my journaling and I have very much taken Maya Angelou’s quote to heart as something of a personal mantra. Reading this book helped me to understand what that difference between belonging and fitting in means for me and the importance of having the ability and courage to ‘Brave the Wilderness’ in standing alone when I need to.  There were some elements of the book I struggled with, mostly around some of her use of language and references to spirituality  but if the subjects of ‘fitting in’, belonging and understanding your own authenticity are ones that strike a chord with you, you might find this book interesting.


Some LNKS for you..

This video of an interview with Brene is a brilliant summary of what her book is about.  In it she talks about how important creativity and art are and how she owes her career and creativity to not belonging…

Every creative knows what its like to stand alone


Belonging is not something we negotiate with the external world. It’s something we carry in our hearts



Brene Brown’s web site …  Brené Brown (brenebrown.com)


Video of my mini booklet using Maya Angelou’s quote.

You can check out what I wrote about making this on my Journal page HERE




Thanks for reading X