I’ve been trying really hard to pinpoint when exactly it was that I felt like I had to fit in or belong somewhere. To be honest, I can’t remember the starting point. It’s a feeling though, that seems like it has been within me my whole life.
Though I can’t remember the very first moment or situation that sparked a sense of needing to belong within me, I can vividly recall the many instances where I yearned to belong, and how it felt to fall short: the disappointment, discomfort, and frustration. It truly is painful to feel like you don’t belong: I often imagine it like a bird flying in the sky, searching for somewhere to land, but never finding a safe place to come down to earth.
It’s a frantic, desperate energy, that feels pretty lonely, too, and yet I’m confident that we all feel this way at one point or another. We crave belonging, we all yearn to feel like we have a place in life, somewhere that we fit in, no matter what. An unconditional safety net, a save haven, a forever home. The place where we can land at any time.
If you had asked me a several years ago, how I would define “belonging”, it would have been an externally focused definition. Belonging is your social circle, your workplace, your religion. It’s how you match up to societal norms, your appearance, how you rate on the “normal” scale; all the boxes you tick in life. Belonging to me was blending in, being accepted, and loved.
This definition caused me to spend a majority of my life craving this external belonging, via groups of people, social status, education, and popularity. I felt that I had to be constantly changing myself to fit my surroundings, and was forever on alert for when I needed to pivot and make changes to fit in.
I was a very shy but strong-minded, introspective child who was very okay with being alone (I am a Scorpio after all). I liked having friends and spending time with them, but didn’t feel like I needed to be social, all the time. If left to my own devices, I would probably seek social circumstances when called to, but likely wouldn’t feel it was a priority. Somewhere, I picked up the belief that being social meant being cool and accepted, the more friends you had, the better. I began to forego my own personal preferences, and constantly sought out social circumstances. I disavowed my true nature, for the sake of external belonging, and so I spent many years of life choosing unaligned social circumstances, just for the sake of “fitting in”. This is just one example, in my own life! We all have many different ways that we seek belonging, and go against the grain of who we are, to fill that void.
No amount of changing, adjusting, and camouflaging actually brought me the belonging I craved. It just made me feel more lost, disconnected, and alone. After years of frustration, confusion, and heartache, I realized that something had to change. I had to alter my course, take a look at what belonging really meant to me, and redefine it.
Belonging, to me, is no longer an external desire, but an internal foundation that I cultivate on a daily basis. My quest for belonging is now finding a safe haven, and a solid home in myself. It’s a curiosity, a remembering, and a deep knowing, of who I really am and what I really want.
I have spent so much time with myself, getting to know my real self, my deepest desires, values, dreams, and beliefs. I made myself, my wellbeing, and my relationship to both, a priority. I uncovered things about myself, learned, and remembered. I learned to love myself, to treat myself with respect, and to honor my place in the world. I created that “safe little landing space” inside myself, knowing that I am always home when I am connected with me.
From that strong place within, I feel a sense of ease and peace on the outside. I feel a holistic belonging that is aligned with exactly who I am. The deep knowing of who I am and what I want, gives me the clarity to make life decisions, the confidence to say no to people and places that aren’t in alignment with my values, and the certainty to know that when life is lived from this place of awareness, I’ll never be forgotten or left behind.
My heart is at ease knowing that belonging doesn’t have to be something that I seek ever again, as long as I remember that I will always belong to myself.
Michelle is Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life's Creative Director and resident writer. She has a degree in Journalism from Indiana University and is also a certified holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and registered yoga teacher with trainings with Anuttara Yoga Shala and Strala Yoga. Michelle has a deep desire to help people find happiness in all areas of their lives, and truly believes the Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life movement will bring lasting change to the world. Michelle splits her time between Florida and New York City and loves connecting with people from all over the world. If you'd like to contact her, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org