Look around you. Who do you see next to you, near you, within reach? As much as we have chosen them, they have also chosen us. Our team, our friends, our clan, our family, our tribe, our crew, our peeps. Whatever you call them, when we are with them, we know we belong there.
Humans seek to belong. We need to be needed and strive to be accepted. It is hard wired within us. And this need for connection has to be fed and nurtured regularly for our ultimate happiness and satisfaction. Without it, something is missing.
We first belong to our families as children. Our parents show us how to be loved and to love back in meaningful ways. We are introduced to school and to church and to sports teams in our youth that further enforce our belonging tendencies. We go on to choose friends and soul-mates that we want to belong to and that we belong with. We stay at companies in positions because we belong there, or at least we feel like we do.
Throughout our lives entirety, we find ways to connect and we create relationships where we belong. Some relationships are successful, and some are not. Some circles are inclusive and healthy and loving, and we find through our journey that some are not. Some situations stir our souls and fill our belonging needs, and some do not. No matter what the experience entails, our underlying need is to belong and we will stay engaged in or move on and keep searching, depending on our feeling of belonging.
I can recall some shaky years where my need to belong was on overdrive, but my ability to connect was less than effective. I still have nightmares about who I will sit with for lunch in Junior High! I remember that feeling of the bell ringing and kids flooding the halls as we made our way to the cafeteria that smelled like mystery meat and sweaty socks. My eyes rapidly scanned the room for familiar faces. As I made eye contact, which was rare at that age, I waited for a welcoming expression. Do I belong with you? No. Okay, continue scanning the room. Finally, I find my circle of misfits and am able to snag a seat and eat my lunch. Finally, my anxiety subsides and I can breathe easily. Finally, I fulfill my quest to belong. Until tomorrow.
Thankfully we grow up and get better at the connection part and can develop lasting relationships based on more than wearing the same cool clothes and liking the same cute boys. Thankfully, we begin to look for people to match our mind sets and value systems and who share our hopes and dreams. Thankfully, we learn to seek people who will encourage us and who will nurture our hearts. Thankfully, we are able to tell our stories and be heard by compassionate ears who can relate to our joy and our pain. Thankfully, we are able to connect on a deeper level and choose to surround ourselves with the ones who see us and accept us for who we are. Thankfully, when we scan the room for the ones who are next to us, near us, or within our reach, we know that to these lovely people, we belong.
It’s not Friday, I realize, but today I am linking up for Five Minute Friday on the prompted topic, “belong”. Curious about what the other writers had to say about belonging? Check out their posts that are hosted at Crystal Stine’s blog this week. Enjoy!