“How do you cope with feeling like you never belong anywhere?” This question was posed recently in a TCK group I follow and the answers were many and varied. Anything from advice to stick with other TCK’s, to some saying they haven’t figured it out, and others saying they’ve learned to feel at home with themselves wherever they are. The post really got me thinking about the idea of belonging and the challenge it typically poses for most TCK’s.
I could ramble on about the years of frustration and hurt this word caused me in the past, we all could, but what have I learned from those years? Is this word, this idea of belonging, my friend or my enemy?
What is belonging?
Many describe belonging as a sense of feeling at home. Some may say it’s feeling included, feeling that you are part of a group of kindred spirits. Webster’s dictionary gives the following definitions: possessions and close or intimate relationships.
My Christian worldview reminds me that belonging is greater than this physical world. We are not meant to feel complete belonging because this world is not our ultimate home and the relationships in it are incomplete. That is a great comfort!
Belonging as Enemy
When I view belonging as something unattainable it immediately creates barriers within me. Self-inflicted and selfish barriers. I may be less open to listening to others, less patient with those who are different than me, less appreciative of differences, and blind to similarities between us. My teenage years adjusting to American high school can attest to this loud and clear.
Belonging as Friend
When I develop a broader perspective of belonging I am able to be more accepting of myself and others. Do I need to be best friends with everyone I meet? No. Do I need to love everything about this country or these people? No. That simply isn’t realistic. What is realistic is the fact that we all belong to the human race, we all have emotions, we all have dreams, we all have value, and really we all want to fit in somewhere.
So maybe in the end belonging is our “frenemy”? As long as we live there will be some level of feeling out of place. That’s a good thing. Belonging is an on-going process of learning to accept myself and others. It does not happen overnight and it usually requires guidance and encouragement along the way.
Is this idea of belonging your enemy, your friend, or your “frenemy” these days? How do you address your need for belonging?
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance. When we don’t have that, we shape-shift and turn into chameleons; we hustle for the worthiness we already possess.” ~Brene Brown~