Belonging Day 2: What Does It Mean to Belong?

It took me just a few minutes of considering the 31 day writing challenge for this word to pop into my head: belonging. 

It’s not surprising really. Even though I’ve never dwelt on that word before, we recently moved and I know the feeling of not belonging.

To kick off this #write31days challenge, I thought today would be the perfect day to explore the meaning of the word belong.

In the dictionary, belong can mean any of the following:

-having a relationship to something or someone
-possessing the proper qualifications to be part of something
-being appropriately situated or placed
-acceptance

Then Wikipedia’s got a whole thing on belongingness:

Belongingness is the human emotional need to be an accepted member of a group. Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, or a sports team, humans have an inherent desire to belong and be an important part of something greater than themselves. This implies a relationship that is greater than simple acquaintance or familiarity. The need to belong is the need to give and receive affection from others.

Belonging is a strong and inevitable feeling that exists in human nature and can be the result of one’s own choices, or the choices of others. Because not everyone has the same life and interests, not everyone belongs to the same thing or person. Without belonging, one cannot identify oneself as clearly, thus having difficulties communicating with and relating to one’s surroundings.

So the dictionary is a little too succinct-y and Wikipedia a little too fact-y; here’s my stream of consciousness thoughts on what it means to belong…

To belong is to have a sense of adequacy, suitability.

To belong is to feel at home.

To belong is to feel understood.

To belong is to have an anchor.

To belong is to know who you are in context of a relationship.

To belong is to be a part of something.

To belong is to be integral.

To belong is to be in the right place.

To belong is to feel wanted.

To belong is to be missed.

To belong is to be safe.

To belong is to have inside jokes.

To belong is to mess up and be loved anyway.

To belong is one of our core needs.

We crave love and acceptance and can only live to our fullest potential as relational humans if we have a sense of belonging…to something or more importantly, someone.

In the wake of the news of yet another school shooting yesterday, I wonder if these violent acts are often done out of a sense of not belonging? It seems like most of the time, the shooter is someone on the fringes, someone that does not feel identification with others.

In reflecting on what it means to belong, I’m realizing there are great implications in humanity to feel belonging or not.

Q’s for Thought:

  • What would you add to the definition or list of what it means to belong?
  • Think back to a time where you felt like you didn’t belong. How did you feel or react?
  • Do you have a good sense of belonging in your life right now?