The Sense Of Belonging.

25 Jan

We all want to belong. Whether it’s to a family, a state, a university, or a small group of friends, we all want to have a place where we feel like we fit in, while also having the freedom to be ourselves. I’ve struggled with the concept of belonging for my whole life. I think that’s what makes being different the hardest thing. Especially with differences that are able to be physically recognized, it’s easier for (some) outsiders to either look away or just feel uncomfortable. I understand that. I understand that a good amount of people are just close-minded and just don’t know how to react towards someone who isn’t like them. I get it. I mean, heck, we all judge people without even thinking. I do it. You do it. It’s human nature. Sometimes I just wish that others could grasp how hard it is for people who are different.

I know that “belonging” is something that everyone struggles with. It’s hard. It’s one of those curveballs that life throws us: the ones that seem easy, but end up being something totally different. Granted, some people have no problem fitting it. But for people who are even a little bit unique, it can be a battlefield. A place where the critical concepts are being careful about wear you step, while also knowing that any step could result in stepping on a landmine. Yes, that’s a weird example, but it fits. I mean, no one knows how others are going to react to them. We all like to lean towards the side of hoping it’ll turn out positively. Thinking that way is healthier and causes less anguish. But what happens when it just doesn’t go our way? Then do we start from scratch searching for others like us, or do we try to seek out the people who we want friends with because they seem interesting?

While it would make sense for me to find other kids with CP to be friends with, that’s not the path most of us who are different take. Anyone who is different will tell you that all they want is to be like everyone else. They just want to be accepted. In a society full of prejudice and racism and stereotypes, all any of us wants is to be treated equal no matter what. Though we hear those words in different contracts, it really comes down to how your peers and others your age view you.

The thing is though is that I have amazing friends that mean the world to me. They don’t care that I have CP because they know that I’m so much more than a stupid label. And that means so much to me. If I have nothing else, I have the ability to turn to my friends and family when things get rough. Yes, I’m so happy to have them in my life, but there are still days when I wish it was easier to feel like I belong somewhere. I mean, yes I belong in Asheville and I belong in college and I belong on the newspaper staff. And I love all those. But sometimes I wish there was something that brought me so much joy while also including all the people who I love. The closest thing I’ve found to this sense of belonging is Salem Academy. Though things were rough my junior year and the academics were hard, I’ve never felt like I’ve belonged somewhere as much as I did when I was at Salem (especially my senior year). There weren’t many (if any) people who stared or looked away (regarding my CP), I had amazing friends around me, I was on the newspaper staff and in Glee Club, and I never had to hide any part of myself. I was able to completely be myself. I know that a part of me will always belong to Salem. I made so many memories there, and I’ve been longing to go back there. To be enveloped by that feeling that you get when you return home and you realize how much you’ve missed it. That feeling that’s only present when you’re practically bursting with happiness and love. The sense of belonging.

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6 Responses to “The Sense Of Belonging.”

  1. Elizabeth Muehlmann January 25, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    This is beautiful and I hope you know you belong.

  2. belasbrightideas January 25, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    “we all want to have a place where we feel like we fit in, while also having the freedom to be ourselves” – amen to that.

    Sweetie, if it’s helpful – I think we all feel this way, even if we are in exceptional physical health and shape. We all have our Achilles heel, every one of us. Sometimes those that are hidden are like time bombs ticking away inside, when instead of confronting them, people lash out in hatred toward others who wear theirs a bit more on their sleeve, so to speak.

    You are not alone.
    Blessings to you, and great post.

  3. jilllurie January 25, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

    Your posts have such a sense of presence, belonging and wisdom and it is a gift to read your words. I could not agree more about the sense of wanting to belong, and am happy you have found your ‘place,’ first and foremost with YOURSELF. much love.

  4. justanotherwakeupcall January 26, 2012 at 2:44 am #

    lovely post..

  5. nickiinbrazil January 26, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    Perfectly stated! I relate to the words and emotions in this post. There are so many reasons a person can experience the need to belong. I myself am dealing with this emotional roller-coaster right now. It’s not the first time in my life and I’m sure it will not be the last. I have some really great people in my life who are helping me. You will find your place, we always do!

  6. katkasia January 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    Great post. Feeling like we don’t belong can be so damaging – so I’m glad it sounds like you have a good group of friends and colleagues around you!
    I’ve also seen people stagnate at work – be afraid of moving on – as they fit in somewhere well, and the people around them are supportive. But if everything else is wrong, is it more important to keep that feeling of belonging, or to branch out into new areas? I suspect that wherever you go, after a while it is possible to find that good place.

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