Being a part of a support group for care providers, I have heard people of all ages talk about feelings of not belonging. They would say things like: “I don’t know where I fit in” or “I’m really not a part of the group, I just help out where I can.” That feeling of not belonging becomes a stumbling block for building strong relationships. It makes you shy away from sharing and being a part of a harmonious group. We all like to know where we belong and where we fit in because everyone hates the feeling of being left out.
As an only child, I can remember making myself feel quite sad because of classmates and friends who had great relationships with their siblings (as least from my perspective). Those kids seem to have a special place in life; they were part of a whole that I had never known. I would imagine what it would be like to have a big brother or little sister. I imagined never being alone, and always having someone to talk to after school and on the weekends. I would imagine how they would always take up for me and include me in all their fun. These kinds of feelings make some people resentful, but I think these thoughts depressed me. I became unhappy with everything. I believed I was an outsider; I believed that my friends and classmates didn’t really want me around because they had siblings so why would they need me. Little by little, I began isolating myself from others including social groups that I was a member of.
One day, my best friend’s mother explained self-fulfilling prophecy to me. She said, “You think you’re alone, so you make yourself alone, then you say see no one wants to be with me. You said it, so you made it happen.” I was stunned. “You mean I’m doing it to myself?” I was. I allowed the thoughts in my head to override the reality of my life. Truth was my best friend’s mom made me feel like one of her kids. My best friend’s siblings treated me like an additional sibling. They never treated me like an outsider. My best friend and I are still friends after all these years, but more importantly that family taught me to understand and enjoy where I belonged.
I belonged to a glee club; I sang first soprano I belonged to that section of singers. I belonged to a karate dojo; I earned a brown belt and I belonged to that school of martial arts. I belonged to a church and served as a junior usher. I belonged to Angel Flight as a member in good standing. From those early middle school and high school days I learned to belong to many groups, circles, and communities. I learned where I belonged was where I truly wanted to be – my sorority, my prayer group, my support groups, my church, the PTA, the writer’s club, on the mission field, serving the homeless, married with children, grandparents raising grandchildren. I belong in my family and family has expanded exponentially because I want others to belong with me. I know where I belong each and every day whether alone or with others,
Perhaps this season of holidays has you questioning where you belong? Perhaps you are suffering from SAD (Season Affective Disorder – a mood disorder that happens at the same time every year). If so, maybe you should ask yourself if you are creating a space of self-fulfilling prophecy. Are you isolating yourself from the places and people where you already belong – your church, your synagogue, your temple, your community center, your bowling league, your neighborhood gym, your sewing circle, your golf buddies, your walking club, your virtual cooking class, your book club, your blood family, lunch with your siblings, daddy’s day out, your tailgate friends, your 12-step program. Where you belonged before, you can belong again. You can even create new places and groups where you want to belong in the future. You are only limited by the thoughts in your head, and please don’t be afraid to discuss those thoughts with someone. That may be the very thing you need to set you free to enjoy where you belong.
Over the years, I have developed deep friendships with people who are only children like me. Each of us have reached the age of old refined wine, and each of us have fulfilling and joyful lives. We belong to each other like sisters and brothers from another mother. We belong to organizations, programs and groups that satisfies our creativity and interests. We belong to the culture around us expressed through the arts and academia. We belong to our community as contributors to a better society. We are not alone. We are not left out. We are not isolated. We are right where we belong today and prepared to be right where we belong tomorrow as we grow and mature.
My wish for each of you is to understand and know where you belong in this season of your life (not just this season of the year). I hope you will find and maintain your place in your neighborhood, in the “Beloved” community, in the global community, and in your immediate world.
Peace, Love, Joy, Hope. Happy Holy Days!