The other day a friend was surprised when I shared my deep dark secret that I have always lived with a longing for belonging. I’m not sure why it surprised him. Maybe he just couldn’t reconcile the irony of a rebel wanting to belong.
If it wasn’t such a constant ache, I might think it odd myself. But, the truth is, I have always struggled with this. Although I do have a rebel side that resists going along with the masses, another part of me very much longs to belong.
I think it started in Junior High School, that cesspool of human trauma responsible for so many of our neuroses. Eating my lunch in a bathroom stall was likely fertile ground for sowing seeds of feeling isolated and alone. Yet, regardless of how they got planted, I’m wondering what it’s going to take to uproot them and toss them into the rubbish heap.
Oh sure, I’ve made progress here and there. But no matter how many stalks are cut down to the ground, there is always a little piece lurking in the soil that refuses to die. Just when I think I’m finally rid of it, a sprout pokes up to taunt me. Then I find myself out there in the dirt hacking away at it again.
So, in utter frustration I asked myself, “What is it going to take for me to feel like I belong?”
According to Victoria Castle, author of The Trance of Scarcity, it doesn’t depend on anyone but ourselves. Our mistake is thinking that it is decided by others, so we sit outside the circle hoping to be included. We don’t realize it isn’t their choice at all – it’s ours.
After reading her book a third time, I finally understand what I experienced twenty years ago at a family reunion. Although I had made a point to ask my relatives questions about their lives, it hurt my feelings that very few asked about mine. I’ve never forgotten what my sister said when I complained to her about it.
“I don’t wait to be asked,” she replied. “I just tell them!”
Even though my sister and I look very much alike, how we experienced the reunion was very different. Whereas I went hoping to feel like I belonged, she went already believing she belonged. The strange thing is, that would never have occurred to me! Or if it did, I would have viewed it as brazenly presumptuous.
Now that I see belonging is not something we earn, but is way of being, her response makes perfect sense. She didn’t question her belonging because she chose to belong. I, on the other hand, had chosen exile and was wondering why no one was lifting a finger to invite me back in.
There are myriad ways we give away our power and for me this has been one of them. That is why I am going to take Castle up on her challenge when she asks…
“What would it be like if you lived – all the time – as if you already belonged?“
The beauty of this challenge is that it is built on the presupposition that we actually DO belong. We belong to the human race and we belong to each other. Wherever we go and whatever we do, we belong, we belong, we belong. All we have to do is to stop telling ourselves otherwise.
If you are interested in reading The Trance of Scarcity, look for the Amazon link on my Resources page.