What it Means to Belong
Belonging is an innate human need. We all strive for that sense of belonging from the day we’re born. We first work hard to obtain our parents’ and family’s acceptance so that we feel like we belong in our family. Then when we venture out into the world and go to nursery and school, we try to fit in and gain that sense of belonging with the outside world.
As teenagers, at that vital time in our lives, when we’re trying to make sense of everything and figure out who we are, we battle with that sense of belonging. Whether we work hard to be part of the “Popular clique” or whether we fight to be “different” because we don’t feel accepted for who we are, we constantly yearn and search for a place to belong.
Because of this we go through a variety of experiences including excluding others who “don’t fit in” or by wearing masks so we “do fit in” in hopes they don’t really see who we are and so we can be accepted as “one of them”.
Throughout my childhood I was bullied. My childhood wasn’t an easy one. The outside world rejected me for being who I was, which at the time was an extremely gullible and naive kid who wanted to see the best in everyone. I was an easy target, especially for kids who had it rough at home. Soon I became the tool which other kids used in order to feel included, that they belonged. As long as they bullied me too they were “safe” from the same treatment.
I didn’t feel I belonged with kids my own age and this feeling carried well into my teens. I didn’t even feel like I belonged within my own country or the communities I should have technically been able to get along with.
Loneliness was my friend. A clingy companion who followed me everywhere. I had to make due with what I had, and all I had was myself for a very long time. I learned to entertain myself on my own, to find solace in literature and learning about topics that intrigued me. With time after numerous battles with depression and self harm, I accepted my “alone” time. It was no longer a curse but a blessing, a way to reset and refresh from the stresses of the outside world.
Through this experience I learned to stop caring about what others thought about me. At first I did it as a sign of rebellion, retaliation towards all those who decided I wasn’t “one of them”. Eventually it became my own form of empowerment. I wasn’t held back by the thought “what will people think?” I was free. I was sure with time I’ll find my “tribe” or others who would accept me despite or because of our differences.
It didn’t begin until I began learning what it meant to accept myself. Of course this didn’t happen instantly or easily. My journey for self acceptance, like anyone else’s, included a lot of trial and error and even a few set backs. But the core belief was there “it doesn’t matter what they think of me, what matters is that I’m okay with who I am.”
I met people with whom I had a lot in common. I learned to become my own person. I learned to be okay with who I was and with who I was becoming. Some people stayed throughout my journey, some came and went, and several joined in later in life. I started creating my own family, my own tribe.
Once I was able to practice self acceptance, I began on learning to accept others. I tried to search for the common ground, even with those I had once decided “unworthy” of my time, because they had once rejected or judged me.
I decided to level up my listening skills, at first as a way of connecting with others but eventually it became my doorway to acceptance and non judgement. I discovered that people, of all backgrounds, had their own struggles and pains. They weren’t all as shallow as they appeared to be, and even those who were, with some time and conversation they allowed themselves to open up when they found a safe space with me.
As the years went on loneliness rarely came to visit. Alone wasn’t a place for him to live anymore. This was made more possible when I learned to embrace a life without expectations. It’s true that with certain groups or people I didn’t always feel like I belonged but more often than not, it wasn’t because they weren’t inviting, but because I chose to block myself off from people knowing me. I had fallen into the trap of the “listener” and forgot how to be a “sharer”. I created my own bubble of unbelonging.
Over the past year it became apparent to me that belonging is a human creation. In fact another tool the Ego uses to make us feel superior or inferior. A method to separate us from the Whole. We’re essentially all one and all come from and will return to the same source – regardless of our religious or spiritual beliefs.
We’re made up of the same matter and our souls or spirits come from the same place. We’re all born from a woman’s womb (whether naturally, surrogate or otherwise). We have the same life cycles and have the same basic human needs. Although we may have differing opinions, beliefs, values or behaviours, we’re all deep down the same. We’re unique while simultaneously all one.
It was with the acceptance of this truth that I realised we create that sense of belonging. No one dictates that for us. If we believe we belong, we belong. We choose. We belong anywhere and everywhere.
Accept that all people are different but we all have common grounds. Accept that you’re good enough and that you have your place in the world. Accept that we belong to a Whole much greater than anything we can fathom. I belong, you belong, we all belong. Create that space, it’s waiting for you.