Belonging means to feel a sense of welcome and acceptance to someone or something. Belonging is a need that we naturally seek as a human in order to feel loved. In the same manner as our identities, there are many forms of belonging. If we fail to find a sense of belonging, isolation and depression often occur. However, there are those who do not belong but in fact are liberated by their independence. This may be due to their desire to rebel from family tradition, friends’ expectations, or work commitments and therefore, are pleased to be set-apart from other people.
Belonging is an inherent human condition in which we strive for acceptance and security through others. A sense of belonging is vital for our survival and existence, as belonging reinforces our self-confidence and protects us from rejection. People group together to protect themselves from torment and in justice but in doing so, others are effectively rejected and alienated. To belong or not belong can be based on the perception of one’s self or of others. People belong if they have similar interests, values, heritage, place, points of view, socio-economic status and culture.
People who do not fit these subtle but strict criteria can become excluded, but the standard is not fixed allowing for opportunity to belong elsewhere. It is therefore, not possible to completely not belong based on an individual’s choice. People can decide not to belong to groups that they typically would not fit into, as they might find the choice to exclude that group more alluring them than actually joining them. As people change and grow we start to develop our own set of values and codes to which we conform.
These values are developed throughout early childhood and into adulthood through personal affiliations and experiences with the groups belong to and get rejected by. This basic philosophy is first affected by family and cultural groups that a person is born into. We learn to judge and alienate people who are different in any means to ourselves. Belonging is a complex process and it is a concept that is not felt strongly or sustained unless the many elements that create the initial sense of connection with people, places, communities and the world, work collectively.
Humans have a common desire to belong. At times the actions of others include an individual are necessary in establishing a sense of belonging. At the heart of belonging, there is a tension between the need to belong and the need to assert our own individuality. It’s a life long lesson on how to belong, but still remain unique. A motive to belong is the need for strong, stable relationships with other people. Other general concepts of belonging include the connections with our surrounding natural and social environments.
Significant moments that bring individuals together either through adversity or shared experiences are also a part of the process of belonging. Shared ideals and cultural experiences are often the motive to help forge a strong sense of belonging, or of not belonging, vary. These perceptions are shaped by people, places, communities and the the world. Furthermore, ultimately the actions of others are essential catalysts for an individual to belong.